ARLINGTON— Baltimore manager Buck Showalter has clearly found a formula that worked for the Orioles as the former Rangers skipper has the Birds in the playoffs for the first time since 1997. And as every Ranger fan knows, the veteran manager has built a roster filled with, well seven of them to be exact, of former Rangers.
This is a diverse group, one including speedy outfielder Endy Chavez, slugging outfielder Chris Davis, starting pitcher Tommy Hunter, submarine-style reliever Darren O’Day, utility infielder Omar Quintanilla, reliever Pedro Strop and catcher Taylor Teagarden.
Of this group, Davis, who hit .270 with 33 HR and 85 RBI in his first full season with the O’s, has played the most prominent role of the ex-Rangers on this club. But no matter what respective roles these seven former Rangers have played for Showalter, it’s always good to see former Texas players faring well in other ports of call.
However, there are just three members of this group who have playoff experience with the Rangers in Chavez (five games), Hunter (three games) and O’Day (11 games), which makes facing their former club in a one-game, winter-take-all scenario definitely a bit more interesting to say the least.
Chavez played five games for the Rangers last postseason. He also has playoff experience with the Mets, including one of the most famous catches in playoff history in Game Seven of the 2006 National League Championship Series. He’s just glad to be back in the playoffs for a second straight year, even if it means facing one of his former employers in the process.
“Not weird, I wasn’t expecting this but we’re here. We’re ready to rock and roll and hopefully this time they get out,” he said.
Of course, the veteran outfielder wants to see him and his teammates advance past Friday, but facing his former Ranger teammates as well as manager Ron Washington only reminds him of how fondly he remembers his time spent in Arlington.
“I had a pretty good year last year with them. I appreciate all the support they gave me, the chance they gave me to play,” Chavez said. “That’s a season that I’m always going to remember. I’ve got a lot of friends in there and in this situation we’re on the other side of the stadium. This is what professional baseball is all about. I’m with the Orioles now and we’re trying to get them like they’re going to get us. This is all new.”
Hunter’s three games of playoff experience came in 2010 with the Rangers when he started one game each in the American League Division Series, ALCS and World Series. He remembers those games well but like Chavez, this affable Alabama native admits it won’t be weird in the least to face his former team, even in such a high-stakes setting.
“It’s fun. Man, it’s going to be fun. It’s one of those games. It’s one game. It’s a coin flip. Let’s go play baseball,” he said on Thursday.
And as far as being part of a group of ex-Rangers who have definitely played a role in the resurgence the O’s have shown under Showalter in 2012, he downplays that whole aspect of his team’s success.
“I got a chance here along with a few other guys. These guys have played well all year and they’ve got one more game to play good again,” Hunter said. “We’re going to go out there and give it what we got. Hopefully we score more runs than them.”