Rangers’ acquisition of Robbie Grossman pays dividends on opening day

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

As the new Major League Baseball season dawned on Thursday, I was feeling pretty good about my annual project of identifying players from Texas on opening-day rosters — and then I learned all about Robbie Grossman.

Grossman, drafted into pro baseball in 2008 out of Cy-Fair High School in the Houston area, hit a three-run homer in his Texas Rangers debut.

His blast off Aaron Nola in the fourth inning helped propel the Rangers to an eye-opening, nine-run, fourth-inning.

Ultimately, it was just the sort of push that the Rangers needed to claim an 11-7 victory in the first game of the new season against the Philadelphia Phillies.

As for me, I was like, ‘How could I overlook Robbie Grossman?’

For the past two years, just for kicks, I’ve tried to come up with a list of former Texas high school and college athletes on opening day rosters.

So, earlier this week, I went about the task of taking my research from the past two years and using it to publish an updated list for 2023.

After reading all about Grossman’s heroics in Arlington last night, I looked into his background, and there it was. Though he was born in San Diego, Calif., he moved to Texas and played ball in the Houston area at Cy-Fair High School.

Oh, well.

Better late than never. In the interest of transparency, just wanted to note that Mr. Grossman, in his 11th season in the majors, is now officially on my list.

For the record, he’s played in his 11-year career for the Astros, the Twins, the A’s, the Tigers, the Braves and now, the Rangers.

When the Rangers signed him in the offseason, the plan initially called for the switch-hitting journeyman to platoon in the outfield. He would likely make his starts batting from the right side against left-handed pitchers.

As it turned out, Grossman apparently worked hard in the spring making adjustments in his swing to earn an expanded role.

According to reporting earlier this month by Molly Burkhardt at mlb.com, he worked with Rangers hitting coach Tim Hyers to tone down his leg kick.

The ploy started to work, and by the end of the spring, he had started to hit better and better from the left side against righthanders.

By opening day, Rangers manager Bruce Bochy had seen enough, and he penciled Grossman into the lineup against Phillies ace righthander Aaron Nola.

In his first at bat, he struck out looking. But in his second trip to the plate, he uncorked a swing and made contact on a ball that landed beyond the wall in right center.

As you might expect, long-suffering Rangers fans enjoyed Grossman’s trot around the bases almost as much as the ballplayer himself.

I must say, after looking into Grossman’s background last night, I enjoyed it as well.

Having spent 45-something years covering athletics in this state, I know it’s never a good idea to underestimate anyone who grew up playing Texas high school baseball.

Sometimes, they fly under the radar, and then, wham, you see a three-run homer leaving the yard on opening day.