Texas half-bil: Seager homer surge, Semien steady post-slump

Jul 21, 2022, 11:36 AM | Updated: 11:38 pm

Texas Rangers shortstop Corey Seager (5) throws to first to complete a double play after forcing ou...

Texas Rangers shortstop Corey Seager (5) throws to first to complete a double play after forcing out Seattle Mariners' Dylan Moore (25) at second, as second baseman Marcus Semien, left, watches during the sixth inning of a baseball game Friday, July 15, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. Sam Haggerty was out at first. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

              Texas Rangers' Marcus Semien follows through on a fielders choice as Oakland Athletics catcher Sean Murphy and umpire John Tumpane look on in the first inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, July 13, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
              Texas Rangers shortstop Corey Seager (5) throws to first to complete a double play after forcing out Seattle Mariners' Dylan Moore (25) at second, as second baseman Marcus Semien, left, watches during the sixth inning of a baseball game Friday, July 15, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. Sam Haggerty was out at first. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
              Texas Rangers' Corey Seager runs the bases after hitting a solo home run off Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Robbie Ray during the sixth inning of a baseball game Friday, July 15, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
              Texas Rangers' Marcus Semien scores a Corey Seager double, next to Seattle Mariners catcher Cal Raleigh during the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, July 14, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
              Texas Rangers' Charlie Culberson, Marcus Semien, Corey Seager, right rear, and Leody Taveras (3) celebrate after Semien hit a three-run home run that scored Culberson and Taveras in the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Minnesota Twins, Saturday, July 9, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — When Marcus Semien was struggling at the plate during his first two months with the Texas Rangers, manager Chris Woodward was emphatic at times when repeatedly telling everyone that their new second baseman would be just fine.

The manager already had a relationship with Corey Seager from their days together with the Los Angeles Dodgers, so he was even more certain of what to expect from the shortstop who had already been a World Series MVP.

Texas still hasn’t had a winning record with its half-billion dollar middle infield, but Semien has been steady since breaking out of his early slump and Seager had a homer surge that took him back to Dodger Stadium for the All-Star Game and Home Run Derby.

“We’re just seeing the consistency we expected,” Woodward said. “It’s a lot of pressure on those guys coming in, I knew both of those guys could handle it.”

The Rangers were coming off 102 losses and their fifth losing season in a row when Seager signed a $325 million, 10-year contract, and Semien got a $175 million, seven-year deal just before the MLB lockout began last December.

“It’s a challenge for every player that comes into a new organization,” Woodward said “And with all the publicity that’s around those guys, you know, they’re expecting to turn this thing around, and it’s hard. You can’t just flip it like that.”

Texas (42-49) returned from the All-Star break with an 8-0 win at Miami on Thursday, the makeup of a game postponed at the start of the season because of the lockout. The Rangers then had to fly across the country to play 10 consecutive games on the West Coast. The Rangers went into the break after being swept in a four-game series at home by streaking Seattle.

Seager has 22 homers, only four short of his career high, after seven homers in a 10-game stretch right before the break. He got a day off Thursday, after making a cross-country trip to be with his teammates and then flying right back to California with them.

After going 2 for 3 with a walk and getting hit by a pitch against the Marlins, Semien was hitting a season-high .242 with 13 homers and 43 RBIs. His average is nearly 100 points higher than at the start of May, and almost 50 higher than on June 1.

“There’s definitely going to be months where guys start off slow, there’s going to be months in the beginning where guys have rough months, and months in the end,” Semien said. “Mine just happened to be as a new guy in the first month or two.”

Semien said he just wasn’t hitting well early, and that the issue “wasn’t any added pressure or anything.”

His 45 homers last season set an MLB record for second basemen, but Semien’s first with Texas didn’t come until his 44th game on May 28. Just over a week later, he went deep three times while setting a franchise record with seven hits during a doubleheader at Cleveland.

“Once you see the ball go over the fence a couple of times, you start to feel a little bit better,” Semien said. “And also when you’re controlling the strike zone better and not chasing pitches out of the zone that you don’t want to hit, it’s always a good feeling, too.”

Seager was hitting .251 with 52 RBIs. He had career-high streaks for homers (five games) and RBIs (eight) just before the break — that span also included the only time Semien and Seager have hit back-to-back homers for Texas.

“It’s fun to be beside him,” said Seager, who was only 19 when he and Semien were teammates in the Arizona Fall League nearly nine years ago.

Woodward was the third base coach for the Dodgers, and before he left after the 2018 season to become the Rangers manager, he challenged Seager to become a leader. The shortstop was the World Series MVP two years later, a year before reuniting with Woodward and Semien, who finished third in the AL MVP voting in 2019 and 2021 — the last two 162-game seasons.

The Rangers recovered from a 2-9 start this season and were 24-24 at the end of May. But after peaking at .500, they lost their first three games in June by a combined four runs. They had 20 one-run losses before the break.

“There’s been some heartbreakers … every night is like now we’re just this close,” Woodward said. “But when you have those guys that you know are going to be here, from an organizational standpoint that makes you sleep a little better at night. Especially when you’re trying to put a winning team together, and you’ve got those guys to rely on.”


More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]

3 months ago

Joe Jarzynka...

Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]

3 months ago

FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...

Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]

3 months ago

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...

Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]

3 months ago

FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...

Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]

3 months ago

FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...

Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]

3 months ago

Texas half-bil: Seager homer surge, Semien steady post-slump