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Four weeks ago Monday, the Texas Rangers were on the road at Tampa Bay.
Ronald Guzman was the left fielder.
His knee would last two outs on the Tropicana Field turf.
What has transpired in the 27 days since he made his 2021 debut is nothing short of remarkable. It’s certainly surprising for a player who has twice been designated for assignment, including as recently as February, and did not make the Opening Day roster.
Even the Rangers were wondering if what they were seeing from Garcia, a 28-year-old rookie, were for real during his fast start. They needed to see it for an extended period, and still do as he hits the four-week mark.
But they are seeing more than home runs and terrific throws. They have seen the traits that keep stars from burning themselves out, and are becoming more and more convinced that Garcia is going to continue to be a productive player.
“Every player, regardless of how long you’ve been doing, you’ve still got to prove it every day,” manager Chris Woodward said. “We’ve known this guy for a couple years now. This kid’s intelligent, he’s physically super gifted, but the work he puts in on a daily basis and and the care this guy has for his teammates and organization, there’s nothing to get in the way of being consistent.”
The Rangers were scheduled to open a two-game series against the San Francisco Giants late Monday at Oracle Park. Garcia was batting .297 and was the team leader in home runs (nine) and RBIs (26).
Those numbers are the most in the majors in the 26 games since his April 13 debut, and they lead all MLB rookies. He is the third rookie in Rangers history to hit nine homers in his first 26 games, joining Dave Hostetler (11) in 1982 and Chris Davis (10) in 2008.
Garcia hit a three-run homer Sunday as the Rangers beat the Seattle Mariners. It was an encore performance from his heroics Saturday, when he connected for the game-tying homer in the eighth and made the game-saving throw home to catcher Jonah Heim to retire Kyle Lewis for the final out in a 9-8 victory.
It was Garcia’s third outfield assist, which leads the team and is tied for second in the American League.
“When we first got him, I was like, this guy’s pretty big. He looks like he should be playing linebacker,” right fielder Joey Gallo said. “But the way he moves, the way he can throw the ball, the way he puts at-bats together, you can tell he’s matured a lot even from last year when we saw him.”
On Friday, Garcia collected two opposite-field singles. His first two MLB home runs were to right field, as well. His work on hitting off-speed pitches is also starting to show through.
And he’s no longer simply a road warrior. His first seven home runs, including the first of his career, came on the road, and he finally connected Saturday and Sunday at Globe Life Field.
His first three home runs gave the Rangers the lead. He has two extra-inning homers to lead the majors. His ability to use all fields and hit off-speed pitches show both a talent for hitting and an improved approach.
“I think he’s found a swing and an approach at the plate to trust and let his physical tools shine,” Woodward said. “The defense is not going to suffer. The speed is not going to suffer. All of those things are consistent. The only thing that was not consistent was the maybe the approach at the plate or the swing mechanics, but he’s cleaned all that up. I believe, he can continue.”
And as Woodward said Saturday, Garcia has a flare for the dramatic.
“I have a plan, and I’m always content with that plan,” Garcia said. “I just happened to be in those situations. I just prepare like I would in any situation. I’m blessed and thankful that the results have been good.”
Garcia called his start to the season “amazing” after a strong spring training in which he was one of the Rangers’ best players yet didn’t make the team because of a numbers crunch on the 40-man roster.
But he’s there now, and could be for some time.
“It’s fun to watch,” Gallo said. “He’s a huge part of our team and hopefully our future. He’s definitely a guy you pay to come watch play.”