Willie Calhoun was planning to drive from Arizona to California on Tuesday since his Triple-A season was over. Instead, the prized prospect the Rangers got in the Yu Darvish trade flew to Texas for his major league debut.
Then he got an RBI single in his first at-bat.
"It's been pretty crazy," Calhoun said before the game.
The Rangers purchased Calhoun's contract from Triple-A Round Rock, and he batted seventh and played left field against Seattle. He pulled a single through the right side of the infield in the second inning.
Calhoun was one of three minor leaguers the Rangers got from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the July 31 trade that sent Darvish to the NL's top team.
"I try not to think about it as much. I don't put any extra pressure on myself at all," the 22-year-old Calhoun said about being acquired for the former Rangers ace. "I don't really think about that when I'm on the field. I just go out there and play my game and have fun."
Texas released right-hander Tyson Ross (3-3, 7.71 ERA) to make room on the 40-man roster. Ross, signed as a free agent last winter, missed the first 2½ months of the season recovering from Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and was out another 2½ weeks because of a blister on his right index finger.
When Round Rock's season ended Sept. 4, the Rangers didn't immediately promote Calhoun. But since then, center fielder Carlos Gomez rolled his right ankle coming out of the batter's box Saturday, and right fielder Nomar Mazara was the designated hitter again Tuesday while dealing with left quad tightness.
Plus, part-time left fielder Joey Gallo is needed in the infield with third baseman Adrian Beltre (left hamstring strain) and first baseman Mike Napoli (ankle) both banged up.
The first action for Calhoun came in the top of the second when Mike Zunino had an RBI single to left. The 5-foot-8 rookie cleanly fielded the ball but his throw was just a bit off line and Nelson Cruz slid in just ahead of the tag.
Calhoun ran a long way to make a sliding catch along the left-field line to take a potential hit away from Kyle Seager in the fifth. Three innings later, Seager hit another ball to left and Calhoun made another sliding attempt. Umpires ruled he trapped the ball, but he still got a forceout at second base after another runner retreated to first thinking the catch had been made.
Beltre was reinstated from the disabled list Tuesday, and took batting practice on the field for the first time since getting hurt Aug. 31. The newest member of the 3,000-hit club hasn't run yet, but said he has felt improvement. With expanded September rosters, there is plenty of room to have him listed as an active player.
"If it was August, he'd still be on the DL," general manager Jon Daniels said. "I don't think he's going to be able to run much. He's still a ways off from that. Could he in theory, perfect game situation, be available to pinch hit? I guess that would be the possibility, and I don't know that answer yet."
Known more for his hitting, Calhoun played mostly left field for Round Rock after playing second base in the Dodgers organization. He hit .300 with 31 home runs and 93 RBIs in 128 Triple-A games.
Manager Jeff Banister said Calhoun would be a regular player for the wild card-hopeful Rangers.
"This is a guy, young player, that has shown promise, and we have a need," Banister said. "Our people feel like this guy has an opportunity to hit at this level."