Jul 29, 2011, 1:18 PM EDT
Endy Chavez missed all of last season following knee surgery and began this year at Triple-A, but the 33-year-old outfielder has hit .326 in 43 games since joining the Rangers in mid-May and manager Ron Washington is ready to give him an expanded role.
Chavez is a left-handed hitter and has faced almost exclusively right-handed pitchers, but with platoon partner Craig Gentry injured Washington sees no problem letting Chavez face lefties too, telling Jeff Caplan of ESPN Dallas:
Endy don’t care. When I got two guys that I feel is quality like Endy and Gentry, one against a lefty and one against a righty, it gives me a chance to get both of them out there. But Endy don’t care.
And you know what? He’s right. Almost all left-handed hitters are less productive against left-handed pitchers and that might be true of Chavez if given a long enough sample of playing time. However, he’s hitting .500 off lefties in limited action this year and is a career .291 hitter with a .703 OPS versus lefties compared to .269 with a .686 OPS versus righties. Of course, his career totals versus lefties consists of just 521 plate appearances, so it’s hardly definitive proof that Chavez handles them better than righties.
And while the handedness of the pitchers he’s allowed to face matters, the bigger question for the Rangers is whether Chavez will turn back into the same guy who hit just .274 with a .664 OPS in the three seasons preceding his knee injury. Washington is riding the hot hand right now, but if Chavez reverts back to his career norms the Rangers might not be so keen about playing him against lefties or righties.