Rangers outfielder Bubba Thompson has reason to celebrate the rules Major League Baseball will implement next season. Many of the impending changes announced Friday are designed to encourage the exact type of basepath boldness that Thompson embodies and reward the speed that stands as his greatest skill.
But instead of gushing about the announcement Saturday before playing the Toronto Blue Jays, Thompson offered a message of caution.
“It’s the big leagues, man,” he said. “You can still get big bases or not.”
Although Thompson represents the ideal benefactor of moves to increase the size of bases and limit pitcher pick-off attempts, he and other Rangers downplayed the potential effect of the rule changes. The MLB also announced it would institute a pitch clock and ban shifts as part of a wave of tweaks intended to promote a quicker, more entertaining style of play.
Thompson spent most of this season in the minor leagues, where versions of these rules were in place. He said he did not find that the pickoff limit or base size influenced his decisions.
Rather, his aim as a base stealer remained the same in the minors and the majors: to read a pitcher and get the best jump possible no matter how many times the pitcher threw over or how large the white square in his sights appeared.
That’s a challenge the Rangers embrace more often than most teams. Texas entered the weekend leading Major League Baseball in stolen bases (111) and base-stealing attempts (143), and Thompson and leadoff man Marcus Semien both stole second Saturday against the Blue Jays over the game’s first three innings.
Still, interim manager Beasley said he has not yet spoken with players about the new rules.
“The fact of the matter is that that is next year,” Beasley said. “Whatever adjustments, training-wise, whatever we have to adjust to, the offseason [and] spring training are going to take care of that.”
Outfielder Leody Taveras, another speedster who spent part of this season in the minors, said he’s considered the rule changes and is excited to see what unfolds. Like Thompson, though, he’s not forecasting a base-running transformation.
“The guys who are aggressive are going to still be aggressive,” said Taveras, who has stolen 10 bases this season. “As a player, you know when you can get a base or not.”
Briefly: Rangers RBI leader Adolis Garcia launched a three-run home run in the first inning Saturday in his return to the starting lineup. Garcia served as the designated hitter after coming off the bench Friday and missing Wednesday’s game all together because of a glute injury. …. The Globe Life Field roof was open for the second straight game. The announced temperature at first pitch was 89 degrees.
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