Sat, 28 May 2022

Bobby Witt Jr., Royals pursue encore vs. Rangers

Field Level Media
12 May 2022, 20:55 GMT+10

Texas Rangers shortstop Corey Seager is an established star, and Kansas City Royals rookie Bobby Witt Jr. projects to be a star.

The two have had their moments in the first two games of a three-game series in Arlington, Texas. The Rangers won the opener 6-4 on Tuesday, and the Royals bounced backfor an 8-2 victory on Wednesday.

The rubber match will be Thursday night, with the Royals going with right-hander Jon Heasley in his first appearance of the season, and the Rangers turning to left-hander Taylor Hearn (1-2, 6.53 ERA).

Seager has three homers in the series. Witt had his first big-league three-RBI game on Wednesday.

Witt, who grew up a Rangers fan after his father, Bobby Witt Sr., played for Texas from 1986-92 and 1995-98, has about 100 family members and friends attending the series.

"Pretty much every Opening Day, I was able to go," Witt Jr. said on the Royals' pregame radio show.

Witt also attended the Rangers' World Series games in 2010 and '11.

"Good to see him do something for his family and friends," said Royals infielder Whit Merrifield, who had three hits and four runs on Wednesday.

Witt made a memory with his two-run double on his father's 58th birthday.

In Texas' Tuesday win, Seager enjoyed his first multi-homer game with the Rangers, the 11th of his career.

"He's Mr. Dependable," Rangers manager Chris Woodward said Wednesday in a pregame radio interview. "You know he's going up there with a plan."

In his two-homer game, Seager launched an opposite-field home run in the first inning. In his next at-bat, he pulled a homer to right.

Seager, who signed a 10-year, $325 million deal in the offseason, is starting to live up to the hype after hitting just .243 with one homer through his first 17 games.

"You know he's going to come out of it," Woodward said.

A lack of run production has plagued the Royals, who rank next-to-last in the major in runs and homers.

On Wednesday night, Merrifield ended a homerless drought of 255 at-bats that dated to Aug. 28, 2021.

"We got some guys pressing," Merrifield said. "Guys are struggling."

For the Thursday series finale, Kansas City is calling up Heasley from Triple-A Omaha for the start. In six minor-league starts this season, he is 1-0 with a 4.44 ERA. Heasley made three major-league starts in 2021, going 1-1 with a 4.91 ERA.

Heasley grew up in Plano, Texas, about a 30-minute drive from Arlington.

"My dad's company always had a deal with the Rangers, so we would always go to Opening Day," Heasley said.

Texas, meanwhile, is going with Hearn.

The 6-foot-6 southpaw last pitched on May 1, when he beat the Atlanta Braves after giving up two runs and striking out six in five innings.

Hearn is set to start at home for the fifth time in six starts this year. In his first four outings at Globe Life Field, he is 1-2 with a 5.09 ERA.

With catcher Mitch Garver on the injured list due to a flexor strain, Sam Huff, the Rangers' 11th-rated prospect, was promoted to back up Jonah Heim, who is getting most of the work behind the plate.

Huff made the start on Wednesday, going 1-for-3. Heim is expected to be behind the plate for Hearn.

--Field Level Media

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