That’s Chris Ray in the photo above. He’ll be getting an AL championship ring from the Texas Rangers in just a few moments, along with first baseman Justin Smoak. Rangers general manager Jon Daniels was expected to come down and present the rings to the pair after batting practice, which is still taking place.
Ray told me he’s excited about getting the ring, even though he was only with the Rangers for three months last year before getting traded on July 1. Not to mention the fact that he was traded to the San Francisco Giants and will soon be getting a World Series ring from them.
Those latter rings weren’t ready when the team was staying in San Francisco for the Oakland series, so Ray figures he’ll get something sent to him via mail.
Now, some may scoff at the idea of a player getting any thrill out of a ring for a team he barely played for and then beat in the championship round. But Ray has had his share of career struggles and isn’t taking anything for granted.
“You look at what happened to me in ’09 and then I end up playing for two World Series teams in the same year,” he said. “It makes it a little bit more special. If you’d have told me in ’09 that I’d be on two World Series teams the following year, I’d have thought you were crazy.”
Ray went 0-4 with a 7.27 earned run average in 46 outings with Baltimore in 2009, trying to come back from “Tommy John” ligament transplant surgery that caused him to miss the entire 2008 season. The onetime Orioles closer allowed a hit in 33 of his 46 outings.
When he came to the Rangers, he notched his 50th career save — his one and only save for Texas. It was his first save since 2007, completing, in his mind, a long journey back.
So, yeah, he’s got some memories of his time with Texas. And yeah, he’s a little excited about the ring.
Ray was traded for Bengie Molina, who also will get two rings from the two finalists. Players from both teams voted before the World Series to give rings and full playoff shares to each of Ray and Molina.
Another guy building up the memories real quick is Tom Wilhelmsen, who made his debut against the A’s on Sunday, retiring the side in order.
Wilhelmsen said he didn’t get overwhelmed by anything on the mound. Not by the largest crowd he’s ever pitched in front of. Nor the fact he’d never been higher than the Class A Midwest League before. Or the fact that he’d reached the majors after a six-year absence from affiliated professional baseball. It was only after he’d pitched that the reality of it all began to set in.
“I said ‘Holy Cow! I just pitched pitched in the major leagues’,” Wilhelmsen said.
He’d spoken to some veteran teammates beforehand about how to deal with the transition.
“They told me to remember that there’s a reason I’m here,” he said. “They told me to trust my stuff and pitch the way I would in any other game. The way I did in spring training. And that, if I did that, I’d be fine.”
Tonight marks the return of Erik Bedard after a 1 1/2 year absence from the majors. Bedard’s last game was in July 2009. It’s been a windy day here in Arlington, so we’ll see how that impacts any balls hit in the air.
Bedard is 1-1 with a 5.91 ERA in four career starts at Texas. he hasn’t beaten the Rangers since Aug. 21, 2007 when he was still with the Orioles.
So. yeah, he could have had a softer landing.
3B Chone Figgins
LF Milton Bradley
DH Jack Cust
1B Justin Smoak
C Miguel Olivo
CF Ryan Langerhans
SS Brendan Ryan
2B Jack Wilson
LHP Erik Bedard
2B Ian Kinsler
SS Elvis Andrus
LF Josh Hamilton
3B Adrian Beltre
DH Michael Young
RF Nelson Cruz
1B Mike Napoli
C Yorvit Torrealba
CF Julio Borbon
LHP Derek Holland