Jarrod Saltalamacchia had run his course here, so much so that his trade to Boston, which came down in a season when nearly all of his at-bats came in AAA even though he’d had more than 700 plate appearances with Texas and which came down days before the Rangers were sold in a courtroom and which involved four pieces coming back from the Red Sox — a Short-Season A righthander, a Low Class A first baseman, a player to be named later who was a Low Class A catcher that Texas planned to convert to pitcher but who never played an official game again, and some cash — with the cash piece arguably being more important at the time than the first baseman (think back on as many Rangers trades as you want during the Jon Daniels era and see how many of them involved targeted corner players), could best be described as a footnote.
After a lost 2011 season, that first baseman, The Citadel’s own Chris McGuiness, had a breakout year in 2012 with AA Frisco and an outstanding Arizona Fall League after that, but the Rangers didn’t make space for him on the 40-man roster that winter, Cleveland drafted him away in December via Rule 5, he failed to stick with the Indians and camp and was sold back to Texas, he got a brief look in the big leagues in June 2013 in the midst of a solid AAA Round Rock season, and was designated for assignment in December to make room for the addition of Shin-Soo Choo.
Pittsburgh called during the 10-day designation window and offered Texas a 25-year-old righthander that it had acquired from San Diego a month earlier in that off-season, and the Rangers, knowing there was enough interest at that point in McGuiness that he wasn’t going to clear waivers and therefore would be lost, made the trade, and to make room for the newly acquired Miles Mikolas, Texas designated outfielder Rafael Ortega for assignment, and if you remember (1) that late-December series of moves or (2) Ortega . . . well, then, props to you.
Seven months later, there were chills, in a season with far too few. Chills when he was hugging family and friends with an ice pack on his shoulder and a crazy-huge smile on his face at the front row of a stadium that had just been emptied of 45,000 Yankees fans asking what a “Miles Mikolas” was.
Chills, thirty minutes after I’d sat down from my living room standing ovation, on a night when McGuiness went 1 for 3 in an 8-3 AAA Indianapolis loss to AAA Charlotte, when Saltalamacchia homered, not for Boston but for yet another team, and when Michael Thomas was doing something else.
Yes, I’ll admit, I thought of this game, 14 years ago, also against the Yankees, but I don’t think we’re looking at another Brian Sikorski here.
There hasn’t been a whole lot of fun this season as a Texas Rangers fan, but Texas 4, New York 2 on the road, behind 7.1 innings of masterful Miles Mikolas work — that was outstanding. Just outstanding.
There’s always a reward, sometimes at the most unlikely moments, if you keep watching.
[P.S. and very off-topic: The Dallas Pelicans 10U AAA Select tournament team will conduct tryouts on (1) Thursday, July 24 and (2) Thursday, July 31 to complete our roster for the Fall 2014 and Spring 2015 seasons. If you are interested in details or know someone who might be, you can find them here: https://www.facebook.com/jamey.newberg/posts/10152616229803987 Thanks.]