Rookie outfielder collects three hits against Oakland
By Sam Butler
ARLINGTON -- The first few weeks of Willie Calhoun's time in the Major Leagues were, understandably, a bit of a whirlwind. He logged a hit in his first career at-bat, but after that came a stretch of 16 consecutive plate appearances in which he went hitless.
He rebounded with his first career multi-hit game on Wednesday against the Astros -- including the first homer of his career, a solo shot off of Justin Verlander -- and he topped that two days later.
On Friday, Calhoun tallied a career-best three hits in the Rangers' 5-3 victory over the A's. He's also reached safely in seven of his last 11 plate appearances, collecting six hits.
The difference, Calhoun noted, was retraining his mind to view the game as he did while in Triple-A earlier this season.
"For me, it was just slowing the game down," he said. "For the last week, I told myself I would just slow the game down and make it the same game as it was in Round Rock and [Oklahoma City], so that's what I tried to do."
That meant relaxing.
"I just tried to really relax and just think to myself that it's just a game. I'm supposed to be having fun with it and not stressing about it. Obviously, I take it very seriously, but I just try to have fun with everything and slowing it down," Calhoun said.
What these last few games can do for Calhoun is serve as an early audition for a job in next year's starting lineup, as he'll certainly be in the mix in the outfield.
"The things we heard about Willie, it took him a little while to get it going, but he seems to be in a nice groove," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "Everything he's doing now has got to give him a great confidence to finish out the year, and go into the offseason feeling good about himself, ready to come to Spring Training ready to compete for a job."
Calhoun obviously doesn't want to make any bold proclamations about where he'll be come April. He's a rookie, and rookies don't do that.
However, the tools are there, and they're evident of the talent he has. The Rangers view him as the jewel of the haul from the Dodgers they got for Yu Darvish, and they're confident he's going to blossom into a good player.
"He got traded over here for a reason," said outfielder Delino DeShields, who will also be vying for a starting outfield spot next season. "Whether it's next year or sometime next year, I don't know. But he's a scrappy player, hits the ball hard, and that's what you want."
Sam Butler is a reporter for MLB.com based in Dallas. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.