Chris Woodward, also known as Woody, finished the 5-0 victory against the Los Angeles Angels at Globe Life Park in Arlington the same way he started. Calm, cool, collected and chill. Those four “C” words all may sound more like the characteristics of a SoCal beach bum than that of a manager in his first season leading a major league team. However on April 16, 2019, Woody was just that. After taking questions from a group of SMU students pre-game, it was impossible to tell that this was just the start of his first season as a major league manager based on the level of comfortability displayed and the amount of time he gave.
The road to get there for Woody was not a walk in the park. After being the only player from the 54th round of the 1994 MLB Draft to make it to the majors, Woodward scrapped and clawed his way around the league, playing every position aside from pitcher and catcher. Following a 12-year career in the MLB, Woodward couldn’t leave the game.
Before taking over as manager of the Texas Rangers, his only other previous managing experience came with New Zealand in the 2016 World Baseball Classic. Now, he serves as the 19th manager in Rangers’ history.
Dubbed a players’ coach, Woodward emphasizes both sleep and nutrition. The first-year manager incorporated “late days” in spring training where the players could not report to training before a certain time. He is aware of the fact that sleep plays a crucial role in both mental and physical recovery.
A great communicator that carries himself with a natural and genuine aura, Woody has the Rangers trending in the right direction. After managing New Zealand in the 2016 WBC, Woodward learned some valuable lessons about managing, specifically pitching.
“The preparation is key, in that tournament, there are so many parameters on how you use your pitching. We didn’t have a great pitching staff. We were limited on great arms so I learned how to piece together and strategically make it so we would have a chance to win, which we didn’t but that was eye-opening for me.” Said Woodward.
The Rangers were a different story than the New Zealand All-Blacks on Tuesday night. Rangers starting pitcher Mike Minor tossed a three-hit shutout to blank the Angels 5-0. The three-hitter was Minor’s first career complete game shutout. Giving up just three singles on 103 pitches, Minor was backed by the bats of Asdrubal Cabrera and Joey Gallo who each hit their own two-run home runs to help secure the win.
“I have my ideas about base running, pitching, defense, hitting and we talk and communicate all the time about those things and then I let them fulfill what they have to do,” Woodward said.
It was apparent that in the shutout win Woody’s ideas served the Rangers well. Afterward, his demeanor never changed whether he was talking about Gallo’s homer or Minor’s complete game shutout. The Rangers currently are playing above .500 ball and are close to perfect at home. This time last year, the case was anything but with then manager Jeff Bannister leading the way as the Rangers were a disappointing 4-12 through 16 games. This season, the Texas Rangers quest for the pennant lives on with first-year manager Chris Woodward at the helm.