NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Thomas J. Rusk Academy in Nacogdoches was paid a special visit by the Texas Rangers on Monday. In the building they had outfielder Delino DeShields, newly signed infielder Will Middlebrooks and announcer Tom Grieve.
The trip also came with a big check worth $10,000 that was granted to the Nacogdoches Youth Softball Association. The money will be used to replace existing wind screens and backstop padding on four of their fields.
The check is all a part of the grant program the Texas Rangers started for these professionals to give back to youth programs they once took part in.
"We're on this platform where we're able to do those things," said DeShields. "To be able to give back to kids and give the people an opportunity to do something with their lives is something great that we're able to do. This is why we do this kind of stuff. It's to be able to give back and give them an opportunity to do those things."
Nacogdoches was just one of the pit stops for their Texas Rangers Winter Caravan. Tyler, Texas was next, where they were able to hold a meet-and-greet with fans and sign autographs.
Rangers fans have a lot to be excited for as they're back-to-back AL West Champions. There are a lot of high expectations for the team like there was last year, but that postseason was unexpectedly cut very short.
Considered a favorite to possibly make a World Series run, the Rangers turned out to have a three-and-done run against the Blue Jays.
The postseason slumps are still a mystery 'til this day. However, with the addition of Middlebrooks, he's bringing his experience of winning the World Series with the Red Sox in 2013 with him.
"I would say the biggest thing to win a World Series is the comradery. Having a team come together, play together and really fight for each other," said Middleton. "It's rare in the big leagues because it's such an individual sport. You're kind of out there doing your own thing. In 2013, we weren't the best team. We just played really well together, we loved each other and I see a lot of that with this team too so it should be good."
"I think we just put so much energy into the season. I don't know if we got depleted toward the end, maybe a little bit, but I mean expectations were high," said DeSheilds. "We had the best record in the American League. Everybody thought that it was going to be us and the Cubs in the World Series and we got swept. I can't really put my finger on something specific, but it's just baseball. You come in a little cold, a little flat footed, and you'll get run over really quick."
The Texas Rangers will start to rebuild for the next season when the full squad reports for Spring Training, February 21. The preseason workouts will once again be in Surprise, Arizona.