SURPRISE, AZ - MARCH 08: Kevin Kouzmanoff #6 of the Texas Rangers sits in the duogut during the spring training game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Surprise Stadium on March 8, 2014 in Surprise, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Kevin Kouzmanoff
After a come-from-behind 4-3 win over the AL-West leading A’s last night, the Rangers are sitting pretty.
It’s ugly to think where they’d be without Adrian Beltre’s backup.
Kevin Kouzmanoff was an afterthought during Spring Training, a veteran journeyman who hadn’t played in the big leagues since 2011. At best, he was a decent insurance policy. At worst, he was a guy making probably his last stop in baseball.
But then Beltre pulled a quad and … no one saw this coming. Not even Kevin Kouzmanoff.
Since being called up from Triple-A Round Rock, Beltre’s backup has helped keep the Rangers afloat during this rash of early-season injuries. Last night in Oakland he helped Texas erase a 3-1 deficit, leading off the 8th inning with a double off the right-field wall and eventually scoring the winning run on a single to center by another emergency fill-in, Donnie Murphy.
To win games with Beltre out and Geovany Soto out and Jurickson Profar out and Prince Fielder slumping and Yu Darvish not his best, you’ve got to get positive results from unforeseen areas.
Not only did he helped the Rangers rally last night, he was named AL Player of the Week after hitting .345 with two homers, four doubles and eight RBI.
“He’s been a Godsend,” Rangers’ Manager Ron Washington told reporters in Oakland before Monday night’s game. “I don’t know where we’d be without him.”
For a guy trying to hang out in the minors, Kouzmanoff is suddenly doing a pretty good Beltre impersonation.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.