Rangers infielder batted .385, belted 3 HRs to earn first distinction
By Cody Stavenhagen
ARLINGTON -- Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor got booed July 18 and 19 during the Rangers' trip to Houston to take on the Astros, but on Monday he was honored as the American League Player of the Week.
Rangers manager Jeff Banister said part of Odor's remarkable turnaround this season comes from the fact he is displaying the type of intensity that led to him getting booed. After hitting a home run earlier in the Rangers' July 18 game against the Astros, Odor and Houston catcher Hank Conger got into an exchange after Odor took his time getting into the batter's box. It led to the benches clearing and Banister yelling at Astros manager A.J. Hinch.
It was a memorable moment in the Rangers' nine-game road trip, but Banister said it wouldn't have happened if not for Odor playing well and with passion.
"That edge, I think, is necessary," Banister said. "That's why everybody in Houston wanted to boo him. I told him that's a good thing. You make another team's crowd boo you, that means you've done something."
In his last six games before Monday, Odor hit .385 (10-for-26) with three home runs, three doubles and eight RBIs. He also scored nine runs on the way to claiming his first career weekly honor.
"I feel amazing," Odor said. "I'm really working hard every day."
Odor's award was meaningful because he got demoted after hitting .144 in his first 29 games this season. He had been the Rangers' Opening Day second baseman.
In Triple-A, Odor reworked his approach at the plate. He learned to lay off breaking balls outside the zone early in counts, improved his defense and came back recharged. Banister said Odor's biggest problem was trying to pull the ball for power. Now, he is staying back, staying disciplined and getting results.
"I think he came into Spring Training thinking he was going to be a slugger, hit a bunch of home runs," Banister said. "I think he's come to the realization now that most home runs are mistakes by the pitchers. You still got to put a swing on it. You go up there trying to jerk everything into the seats, it doesn't really work out for you."
Since his recall on June 15, Odor was hitting .367 with seven home runs and 25 RBIs, bringing his season totals to .271 with eight homers and 34 RBIs.
"He went back there and found the player everybody described to me," said Banister, who is in his first year with the Rangers. "Plays with an edge. Plays with an energy, passion, intensity."
Odor is the first Ranger selected for the AL's weekly award since Kevin Kouzmanoff was honored for the week ending April 20, 2014.
Cody Stavenhagen is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.