With adversity comes opportunity.
The injury to Leody Taveras will probably open the door for Bubba Thompson to be the Rangers opening day starting centerfielder. That, in turn, makes the competition for left field even more wide open.
This isn’t a Wally Pipp to Lou Gehrig moment, where Pipp was the Yankees starting first baseman, had a headache before a game on June 2, 1925, took the day off, was replaced by Gehrig, then never started another game for the Yankees.
Thompson is not Gehrig. But right now, he might be the closest thing. Taveras has had a number of chances to take a starting job. In 181 games and 607 at-bats, he just hasn’t hit major league pitching with any kind of authority. This injury might cost him his job.
Thompson hasn’t put fear into the eyes of major league pitchers either, though, hitting slightly worse that Taveras. He has, however, put fear in the eyes of catchers, stealing bases at twice the rate of Taveras. If Bubba can get on, he is a disruptive force. It’s the getting on part that’s the challenge.
Both players struggle with offense. Both are very good with the glove in the outfield. Bubba has a huge advantage in speed, and with the new rules, that advantage should widen.
So, while it’s disappointing for Taveras to go down with injury, it seems the Rangers, for the first time in seemingly forever, have a decent option in Bubba Thompson they can count on to fill in for Taveras.
At least one of the two is an offensive threat in certain situations.
Kansas City @ Texas, 3:05