Jerome Miron / USA TODAY Sports

Texas Rangers Notes: Team Demotes Keone Kela Due To Issues With Clubhouse Culture

Keone Kela learned the hard way on Friday that culture really matters to the Texas Rangers. Kela will start the season with Triple-A Round Rock and although it is not expected to be permanent, this can't be what the Rangers or Kela were wanting the weekend before opening day.

In a surprise to just about everyone, the Texas Rangers announced Friday afternoon that right-handed relief pitcher Keone Kela would begin the season with Triple-A Round Rock. While several factors were mentioned ranging from personal reasons to disciplinary action, MLB.com's Anthony Andro quoted Rangers GM Jon Daniels as saying that clubhouse culture was the main factor in making the move.

https://twitter.com/aandro/status/847912448137023488

The Rangers have long prided themselves on their culture and how important it is to their sustained success. It should come as no surprise then that they are putting the team and their culture ahead of one individual no matter how impactful he may be. This should be a wake-up call not only to Kela, but to anyone in the organization who may not have bought into the clubhouse culture the Rangers have worked so hard to build.

Kela was and still is expected to be a big contributor to a Rangers bullpen that is poised to be a strength of their 2017 squad.  Kela burst onto the scene as a rookie in 2015 pitching 60 innings with a tidy ERA of 2.39 and a WHIP of 1.160. Unfortunately, his progress was slowed by bone spurs in 2016 and he struggled through 34 innings of subpar relief. Despite the struggles of 2016, the Rangers and Kela are both confident that he is more the pitcher from 2015 than 2016.

The Rangers don’t mind players who have an edge to them, in fact they just gave 50 million dollars to the culprit behind the Jose Bautista punch incident last year. Kela is edgy and plays with a lot of passion and in many cases that can be fuel for both himself and his team if channeled correctly.  Many fans will remember in the 2015 ALDS versus the Toronto Blue Jays, Kela and Josh Donaldson were involved in a heated exchange in what ended up as an extra inning Rangers win.

The Rangers also happen to play for a highly passionate manager in Jeff Banister who encourages his players not to shy away from who they are and what drives them. Banister himself has had his fair share of on-field displays of passion, the most famous one perhaps being his finger pointing at A.J. Hinch of the Astros during a benches clearing skirmish in 2015.

The point is that the Rangers don’t mind players who are passionate; they just mind it when that passion disrupts their own team. Keone Kela is a passionate guy and that is a good thing. He has to understand, however, that culture comes first with the Texas Rangers and if his passion keeps getting in the way, they won’t hesitate to do something about it, no matter how good he is. 


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