Rangers roll out the red carpet for Kinsler’s return
ARLINGTON, Texas – At this point in the season Jon Daniels wearing a "kick me" sign would be redundant. With each passing homestand, former Rangers who played key roles in those back-to-back trips to the World Series show up to remind fans of the good ol’ days.
On Tuesday, rain-soaked fans at Globe Life Park had barely settled into their seats when Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler drove a Colby Lewis fastball an estimated 384 feet into the left-field seats. He briefly waved toward the Rangers dugout while jogging to first base in a move that angered Lewis and Rangers manager Ron Washington.
"I was just saying ‘Hi,’ said Kinsler with a sheepish grin. "It was nothing personal at all. I was having a good time. It was my return home and to get lucky enough to square one up like that and have it go over the fence, it was a good feeling and I was just having fun."
Kinsler was traded to the Tigers this past offseason for first baseman Prince Fielder, who was dreadful before undergoing season-ending neck surgery. Kinsler’s departure was also going to clear the way for Jurickson Profar to take over at second base. We’ll see if that ever happens since Profar is also expected to miss the rest of the season and his replacement, Roughned Odor, has shown promise.
It’s too early to pass judgment on the trade, but it’s fair to say the Tigers have the upper hand. They unloaded an enormous contract and a player who put up disastrous numbers in the postseason in Fielder. Kinsler is a great fit for the Tigers because of his solid play at second base and ability to rack up extra-base hits. He’ll never put up huge home-run numbers playing in Detroit, but his 23 doubles are pretty impressive. Hitting behind Miguel Cabrera is also a perk. Like ex-Rangers Nelson Cruz and David Murphy, Kinsler wanted to have a big game against his former team. I was a bit surprised that he was so quick to admit how much the atmosphere before his first at-bat affected him.
"I think that’s why I like playing in Boston so much," Kinsler said. "It’s fun to play in a game where everyone’s watching every pitch."
Kinsler said hearing the combination of boos and cheers helped him focus as he strolled to the plate. With a 1-1 count, he destroyed Lewis’ sinker. And after waving at his old teammates, he grinned all the way around the bases. Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter stood in the clubhouse after the game and observed Kinsler’s post-homer antics on a TV.
"Man, that’s funny," he said.
The humor was lost on Lewis, who narrowly missed his first quality start of the season after pitching into the seventh inning. He said something to Kinsler as he was returning to the dugout after making an out in the third inning.
"I feel like it’s unfortunate, but that’s just me," Lewis said. "I’m not going to sit here and bad mouth Kins. I really enjoyed Kins and I enjoyed my time playing with him and I enjoyed him as a teammate. I was just disappointed a little bit."
Washington refused to talk about Kinsler’s gesture after the game. And when I asked Daniels via text whether he had any thoughts, he said, "No, more focused on what we’ve got to do." Kinsler reinforced before the game his disappointment with Daniels for not giving him any warning that a trade was in the works. He took it as a sign of disrespect after all his years with the organization. But his beef with the Rangers’ general manager is a separate discussion. What Kinsler did Tuesday was show up his former teammates.
It’s pretty weak that no one from the Rangers retaliated. I’m not saying someone should’ve tried to hurt Kinsler, but his show-boating move certainly warranted something. It’s bad enough the Rangers are in the process of falling out of playoff contention in June. They should have enough pride to respond when an opposing player sarcastically waves at them during a home-run trot.
I certainly know what Nolan Ryan would’ve done if he’d been on the mound. But he was nowhere in sight Tuesday.
And the homecoming parade continued for former Rangers. Surely this has to stop at some point.