The Texas Rangers and the Houston Astros may be the American League West bottom feeders in the early portion of the season, but a couple of free- agent additions have given Lone Star State baseball fans a reason to cheer.
Left fielder Shin-Soo Choo is swinging a big bat for the Rangers while pitcher Scott Feldman has gotten off to a strong start as the Astros’ ace. The Rangers were 6-6 and two games behind division leader Oakland coming into Monday while the Astros were 5-8 and 3½ games behind.
Choo signed a seven-year, $130 million contract with the Rangers that will pay him $14 million in 2014 and 2015. Feldman came to Houston after inking a three-year, $30 million deal.
Choo is batting .302 (13 for 43) with three RBIs and two doubles through the first 12 games of the season.
He joined the Rangers after playing for Seattle, Cleveland and Cincinnati during his first nine seasons in the majors.
Consistency has been a key for Choo this season. He’s registered 13 hits in 10 different games and has had three multi-hit games, including going 2 for 3 with a triple in a 10-7 win against Boston in Fenway Park.
The back-loaded contract allowed the Rangers to bring in other free-agent additions, such as Prince Fielder, and could lead to big things in the next few seasons.
Feldman is 2-0 with a 0.44 ERA with seven strikeouts and has allowed only five hits through three starts this season.
The righty made his presence felt right off the bat for the Astros. He allowed two hits and no earned runs in 6 2/3 innings to bet the New York Yankees 6-2 on opening day.
The only time Feldman didn’t win a game this season was during Friday’s pitching duel against Rangers star Yu Darvish. Feldman got no decision after striking out three and allowing three hits and no earned runs in six innings.
The Rangers won 1-0 in 12 innings.
Feldman played for the Rangers from 2005 until 2012 and split last season between the Baltimore Orioles and Chicago Cubs.
The 31-year-old righty, who has pitched in nine playoff games, could be a key veteran presence this season. The Astros ended the 2013 season as baseball’s youngest team with an average age of 26.