SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) – Within hours after Corey Seager was introduced by the Rangers with his $325 million, 10-year contract in December 2021, a lockout prevented him from contacting Texas for more than three months.
Following a late and rushed spring training, the Rangers never had a winning record while skidding to a 94-loss season.
“Not winning is always frustrating,” the All-Star shortstop said.
Texas hired a three-time World Series champion manager and revamped its starting rotation, and Seager was able to have a normal offseason. He has described coming into his second spring with the Rangers as “a world of difference.”
The Rangers held their first full-squad workout in Arizona on Monday. Seager arrived in camp over the weekend, no longer the new guy in the clubhouse.
Seager was in constant contact with the organization all offseason, including general manager Chris Young and new manager Bruce Bochy. The shortstop is getting to know the players who are now the newcomers. Among them two-time National League Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom, former All-Star right-hander Nathan Eovaldi and left-hander Andrew Heaney, all signed to multiyear contracts.
“It just makes everybody better, right? Like when you’ve got the five guys that we have, six guys, seven guys, really, that can go out there and start for us now, it’s that much more comforting,” Seager said even before getting to camp. “It’s more of the buy-in of expecting to win every night. You know there’s no excuses now with who were throwing out there on why we can’t at least expect to win.”
The Rangers introduced their half-billion dollar middle infield of Seager and second baseman Marcus Semien on Dec. 1, 2021, only hours before the lockout began Texas peaked at 24-24 at the end of May and finished with its sixth consecutive losing season.
“It’s probably one of the things I didn’t anticipate enough, is just the impact of an abbreviated spring training,” Young said. “Really a lot of changes and new personalities coming together all at once in the hope that we would get off to a hot start. It didn’t materialize and I think it took us time to really get used to each other, to understand just the locker room dynamics, the coaching dynamics. … We’re in a much better spot than we were last year.”
Seager said the biggest learning curve last spring was the aspect of everything being new for him. Then all the losses started piling up.
Seager spent his first seven big league seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers and was the 2016 NL Rookie of the Year. Los Angeles averaged about 99 wins a year during that time — not including the COVID-shortened 2020 season, when the Dodgers won a franchise-record 71.7% of their regular-season games and went on to win a World Series played entirely at the Rangers’ ballpark.
That makes Seager the only person on the 40-man roster in Texas who has been in a playoff game at Globe Life Field, the retractable roof stadium that was in its first year of use when the Dodgers played 16 of their postseason games there in 2020. They won the NL Division Series and NL Championship Series before a six-game win over Tampa Bay in the World Series, with Seager the MVP of both the World Series and NLCS.
Seager hit a career-low .245 overall last season,but had a career-high 33 homers in his debut season with Texas He hit 22 homers at home, where he batted .273.
Seager and the Rangers will be back home for the March 30 season opener against the National League champion Philadelphia Phillies.
“Last year was so accelerated with new faces, with new everything, too. Spring was tough last year trying to fit everything in a short amount of time,” Seager said. “I think it was just a bad recipe for trying to be prepared with a new team and new people, and stuff like that.”