Tuesday newsletter time: Scary moment for Josh Smith as Rangers lose first game
(AP photo/LM Otero)
The early word Monday night was that the scans on Josh Smith’s face came back clean.
He’s either hard-headed or incredibly fortunate.
The Rangers left fielder was plunked in the right cheek by an 88.5-mph sinker from Orioles left-hander Danny Coulombe. Smith left the game and was taken to an area hospital for testing, manager Bruce Bochy said.
However, it won’t be the least bit surprising if Smith lands on the injured list. The Rangers could place him on the seven-day concussion IL.
Smith probably won’t be eating steak for a while.
There’s also the mental side to taking a pitch in the face. Former Rangers outfielder Willie Calhoun needed around a year to get over his hesitation at the plate against left-handers after Dodgers lefty Julio Urias plunked him in the spring of 2020.
Calhoun had a broken jaw and would have missed the first two months had COVID not delayed the season.
If Smith ends up missing time, the Rangers don’t have many options on the 40-man roster to replace him. Dustin Harris, who is at Double A Frisco, is the lone outfielder on the 40-man. Infielders Jonathan Ornelas and Luisangel Acuna are also on the 40, and Ornelas is at Triple A Round Rock.
The more likely option would be catcher Sam Huff. He would be the Rangers’ third catcher, but he would also give Bochy the ability to pinch run for either Jonah Heim or Mitch Garver if both are in the lineup at catcher and designated hitter.
No matter who would be called upon, he would likely be looking at a brief stint. Center fielder Leody Taveras is eligible to come off the 10-day IL on Friday. Even if he’s not ready, he’s not far away.
Right-hander Jon Gray didn’t particularly care for how he pitched, even though he allowed only two runs in becoming the first Rangers pitcher to complete six innings. He struck out seven.
However, he made two mistake pitches that were hit for home runs by Gunnar Henderson and Jorge Mateo. That’s was enough against a Rangers lineup that managed only one hit against Kyle Bradish and three relievers. Bradish gave up the only hit in the second inning, two batters before he was forced to leave the game after taking a Heim liner off his leg.
Coloumbe entered and was followed by Tyler Wade, who tossed five hitless innings. Wade was scheduled to start today’s game, so the Orioles will be scrambling. But the bullpen should be available thanks to Wade covering five innings.
Back to Gray, who said after the start that he had been dealing with an illness the past few days and didn’t have a ton of energy going into the start. He felt like his velocity was down a tick, and maybe that’s what got him on the solo homers.
Unlike last season, though, Gray was put on the IL after his first start because of a blister. He came back from that after serving the minimum, only to tweak his knee in his first start.
Outside of this illness, Gray has been healthy all season and his arm and knee feel fine.
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