For one batter, Kohei Arihara’s Texas Rangers debut was great. It went downhill fast.

Jeff Wilson
·2 min read

Tim Anderson is a former American League batting champion for the Chicago White Sox, and will go down as the first hitter Texas Rangers right-hander Kohei Arihara faced as a member of an MLB organization.

He jumped ahead of Anderson and then retired him on a ground ball to shortstop.

But Arihara quickly learned that this MLB stuff isn’t as easy is it seemed through one hitter Tuesday.

The next three White Sox reached, with the third, Andrew Vaughn, connecting for a three-run homer. Chris Woodward rolled the inning with two outs and with Arihara at 26 pitches.

It didn’t get much better, but the reviews from Arihara, Woodward and catcher Drew Butera weren’t as bad as things looked at Camelback Ranch in game that eventually ended in a 5-5 tie after six innings.

“It’s a new season, a new place for me,” Arihara said. “So it felt like it was the start of something great. But I still wasn’t able to execute the way I wanted to. So next time I hope that I’ll be able to have even more fun.”

The second inning was also rolled with two outs, this time with the bases loaded and reigning AL MVP Jose Abreu coming to the plate. Arihara had reached 41 pitches on the day, and Woodward wasn’t going to let him go through another potentially long at-bat.

The crowd wasn’t pleased either time with the 2021 spring rule designed to minimize injury risk for pitchers.

“We’re going to take care of him,” Woodward said. “We’re not going to put him in harm’s way.”

Arihara wasn’t happy that he put Woodward in that position.

“For me personally, it’s not acceptable that I wasn’t able to finish the innings,” Arihara said. “In the future, I have to make sure it doesn’t happen again and that I can finish the inning.”

Butera thought Arihara was being a bit tough on himself. He was around the strike zone all game, with some calls not going his way, and on a few occasions was just a tick off from a pitch producing an out instead of a hit.

The biggest thing, Woodward said, is that Arihara never gave in despite the White Sox having success against him.

“I think the most pressing thing was they got some base hits off of him, but he just kept executing,” Woodward said. “He fell behind, and he just said he wasn’t as sharp as you’d like to be. I think that some of those pitches maybe were decent pitches that he didn’t get calls on and maybe he’s used to getting.”