C.J. Nitkowski previews Rangers, strength of having vets on team

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There are few people more tied into the Texas Rangers organization than C.J. Nitkowski so he sat down with Victor Rojas to preview the Angels series with the Rangers

- We're going to talk a little bit about this Texas Rangers Ball Club with their analyst CJ Nitkowski, our former big league pitcher. And obviously works with Fox and FS1 as well. And thanks for joining us. And talk a little bit about this fifth place Texas Rangers Ball Club. Because I think when the season started, there was the possibility that they would be in a rebuilding mode. Then the season has kind of played out. There's been some huge injuries for this team. Where does this team sit right now?

- Yeah, the injuries have been a big issue. Adrian Beltre just came off the DL, so that helps a little bit. But you've been missing Elvis Andrus now for a while. Rougned Odor was out for a while. Those are really three huge pieces at one point when they were all out. So that really kind of slowed things down a little bit for the Rangers.

They were in that situation where everything was going to have to go right for them to even have a chance to contend. It hasn't so far. So what that means now is younger guys are getting opportunities, which, you know, as a younger player in the system where you don't think you're an infielder, you're thinking, there's no chance. Where am I going to play on the infield with the Rangers? Well, Isiah Kiner-Falefa is getting an opportunity. He's done a really nice job.

Jurickson Profar taking advantage of the opportunity has done a really nice job. Ronald Guzman. All guys that really weren't expected to be impacted at all or even be on the roster. He's getting lots of time at first base, and getting an opportunity to do some things. So overall for this team right now, that's kind of where they're at. They understand it. They weren't necessarily expecting all these young players to be getting the at bats, the innings right now, but they are.

Now as far as future Hall of Famer's concerned, you mentioned Adrian Beltre. The Angels have one in Albert Pujols. It's fun watching these veteran players, especially as they continue to accumulate big numbers over their careers.

- It is. And it's fun to watch them kind of pass big names on the list, right? It was Cap Anson yesterday for Adrian Beltre. And it kind of forces you to dig in a little bit on the history of the game, which I think is always a good thing. And, you know, when you have a season like this and it looks like the Rangers aren't going to contend and sitting in last place, it gives you some nice storylines as well as far as what you talk about during the broadcast.

But, you know, he has been sorely missed. And I know you go through the same thing whenever you don't have Albert in that lineup. But Adrian Beltre is so key to this club. He's a chemistry guy. And a lot of people kind of get away from those things. But still really important to the Rangers when he's out there every day. Even if he's sitting on the bench when he's hurt, it's not exactly the same. So he's fantastic to watch both sides of the ball. Although, we'll see a little bit different from him, I think. A little bit more DH now sounds like it's going to be happening for Adrian this time around.

- Well, Angel fans certainly know that with Albert over the last couple of years. Although, forced to play more first base with Shohei Ohtani now in the lineup. Now tonight, Bartolo Colon's on the mound. Former Cy Young award winner for the Angels. And it's kind of an interesting story to see this man that's on the mound. Not only that, he's opposing a 21-year-old in Jaime Barria.

- It's unbelievable. He's 45 years old. This guy's two months younger than me. Drives me crazy. I probably haven't played baseball in a decade. But he is fun to watch. What's so great about him-- he is opposite of everything that is happening in the game right now. He throws that two seam fastball nearly 65% of the time. In an age where guys with big fast balls are throwing them less, right? And he does it at 88 to 90 miles an hour.

Unbelievable movement that he still has on a two seamer. Sit there and backdoor to righties all day long. Starts out a ball, but it's got that late and darting movement. So he's a lot of fun to watch. Fills up the strike zone like crazy. And he has been a guy-- talk about Adrian. Bartolo Colon has actually been a really good influence for a lot of the pitchers on the staff as well.

Martina Perez is locked on his hip, and they are glued together all the time. Which is good for Martin, a guy who had struggled with command over the course of the year and the course of his career. And a guy who's also been hurt. That's another issue with him. So it's been good to have him, first of all, in the rotation because he's been steady. We didn't know what he was going to do. Whether he was going to make team. Was he going to be in the bullpen? Well, he's been an anchor in the rotation so far this year, but he's also been a really good influence in the clubhouse.

- Have you ever seen anybody in the big leagues as much fun-- has as much fun as-- and as much-- so much self-deprecation as Bartolo Colon? Even at this stage of his career.

- You know what? That, too, without a doubt, that's been a big part of what he does. I think you get to that point in your career when you've been doing it for so long, you're just kind of like, eh, whatever. You'll have fun, you'll poke some fun at yourself. But he still goes out there and competes.

But I would love to but a heart rate monitor on him during a game, because it doesn't change, man. Like, on the outside at least, whether he just gave up four home runs in a row or struck out the side a couple of times in a row, I mean, he is the same all the time. I wouldn't be shocked if that stayed at about an 80 resting heart rate regardless of what was going on, which is another really good lesson for these other guys, right? Guys get too high, they get too low. Bartolo Colon is steady Eddie.

- CJ, as always, we appreciate the insight, buddy.

- Yeah, my pleasure, Victor.