There’s not much you can do while nursing a serious leg injury.
Ian Kinsler chose locker-room chess matches to idle away his time while recouping from the high-ankle sprain that shelved him for 59 games this season.
Despite a disappointing regular season and plenty of time spent in said locker room, the Canyon Del Oro High School grad has finally set aside his bishops and turned Tampa Bay Rays’ pitchers into his pawns.
Kinsler enters tonight’s crucial ALDS Game Five swinging a hot stick. With a strong night, the Texas Ranger second baseman could challenge for the ALDS Triple Crown — if such an honor existed.
Kinsler is third in the American League so far this postseason with a .357 average and tied for second with 3 RBI. He sits only behind teammate Nelson Cruz and his three home runs as the only other player to go deep multiple times (twice) in the MLB playoff’s first round.
In four games, Kinsler has five hits in 14 at bats, scored 4 runs and wracked up a .438 on-base percentage.
Talk about making up for lost time. Or is it: talk about stepping up when it counts?
Whatever the cliché, the Rangers — who have never won a postseason series in their 49-year history — are glad to have the Kinsler-of-old back in their lineup.
His 9 home runs and 45 RBI in the regular season are a significant demise from his 31 dinger, 86 RBI campaign in 2009 — a year that lifted him among the game’s elite second basemen.
Kinsler is the last Tucson-born player left in the MLB playoffs after J.J. Hardy (Sabino High School) and the Minnesota Twins quietly bowed out to the New York Yankees in three-straight games.
Hardy had a double in 10 at bats, and basically filled up the rest of his stat sheet with two strikeouts.
Tucson has seen its share of players recently win World Series rings in the last six seasons, including: Shelley Duncan (Yankees 2009), Chris Duncan, (Cardinals, 2007), and Brian Anderson (White Sox, 2005).
Of course, if Kinsler and the Rangers lose tonight, it’ll be check and mate on yet another lost season in Arlington.