Keeping his players fresh is a task Texas Rangers manager Chris Woodward takes seriously. That’s why All-Star shortstop Corey Seager did not play Thursday afternoon.

Come Friday night, Seager likely will be back in action in the Rangers’ series opener against the Seattle Mariners in Arlington, Texas.

The Rangers and Mariners will meet for the second time this year. In April, Seattle took two of three at home.

Right-hander Dane Dunning (1-3, 4.31 ERA) will start for Texas. The Mariners will go with right-hander Logan Gilbert (5-2, 2.29).

Seager, who is hitting .236 with 11 home runs, has started in 48 of the Rangers’ first 51 games.

Because Texas played a day game on Thursday against the Tampa Bay Rays, following an 11-inning game Wednesday night, Seager was not in the starting lineup for the series finale. Texas fell 3-1 on Thursday, splitting the four-game series.

“It’s really tough,” Woodward said on his pregame radio show Thursday. “Any time you see Seager in the ‘extras’ section (of the lineup) is not a good sight. He’s one of the best players in baseball. But I have to do the job of keeping this guy fresh.

“He’s a big, 6-foot-4 shortstop who plays a demanding position. I don’t want the wear-and-tear to just wear him down by the end of the year. Us having success throughout the rest of the year is him having success.”

A rested Seager certainly will be a welcome sight for Texas fans.

As for the Mariners, they’re witnessing the emergence of one of baseball’s top prospects.

Julio Rodriguez, Seattle’s 21-year-old center field phenom, keeps getting better.

In April, Rodriguez hit .205 with no homers and nine stolen bases in 20 games. In May, he started showing why he is so highly regarded, batting .309 with six home runs and five stolen bases in 28 games.

“We can talk about Julio’s character and how mature he is and the way he plays the game with a smile on his face,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said, according to the Seattle Times. “But until you see it play out — can he keep that level of confidence and belief in himself when things aren’t going his way?

“And things certainly were not going his way the first couple of weeks. It seemed like every called third strike that was on the edge was not going his way, and he did not waver. He did not get off who he is.”

Rodriguez is off to a good start in June, too. He is 3-for-8 this month after going 2-for-5 with a double on Thursday as the Mariners pulled out a 7-6, 10-inning win over the Orioles. Seattle won twice in the three-game series at Baltimore.

Gilbert will look for his second win over the Rangers this season. He beat them at home on April 20, when he threw 6 2/3 scoreless innings, striking out four. He allowed six hits and no walks.

In four career starts against Texas, Gilbert is 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA.

Dunning is 1-1 with a 5.00 ERA in two career starts vs. Seattle. He lost to Gilbert and the Mariners on April 20, when he gave up three runs on six hits in four-plus innings. He struck out three and walked three.

Rangers rookie Josh H. Smith started at third base and led off on Thursday in his fourth major league game. The 24-year-old LSU product went 1-for-3 with a double and was hit by a pitch.

“I like that he’s getting on base a ton,” Woodward said. “His at-bats in his first couple of games are impressive. He keeps getting on base. I don’t think it’s too much to handle for him.”

–Field Level Media