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Surprise position outlook: Bench

1/18/2013

Editor's Note: We finish off the infield, outfield and bench this week before shifting our attention to the starting rotation next week as we get prepared for spring training in Surprise.

Today's position: Bench

Before you shrug your shoulders and think, 'Hey, the bench doesn't matter,' remember the 2011 World Series. Heck, the 2010 World Series too. In both cases, the National League team had the better bench. That was clearly evident in the St. Louis Cardinals, who used that bench to help them come back from a 3-2 deficit to win the title.

A good bench can be critical for a manager, even one on in the AL. So based on the various combinations of folks at catcher, infield and outfield, here's how that bench could look (at least at this moment) in 2013. A few things:

* A.J. Pierzynski is the starting catcher with Geovany Soto expected to handle most of Yu Darvish's starts. So when Pierzynski is in there, Soto and his right-handed bat will be on the bench.

* Assuming Justin Upton, Michael Bourn or someone else doesn't show up in Surprise to play center, Leonys Martin and Craig Gentry seem destined to platoon out there (as we discussed Tuesday). That means one of them will be on the bench while the other is playing. Martin is a left-handed batter and Gentry is a right-handed hitter. Both can run and could be in position to pinch-run late. Gentry also was a late defensive replacement many times in 2012. Gentry is 4-for-20 as a pinch-hitter in his brief career, by the way.

* The Rangers will have a utility infielder. If Mike Olt and Jurickson Profar start in the minors, it could come from someone not currently on the 40-man roster. Yangervis Solarte, Brandon Snyder and Brandon Allen are non-roster invitees to spring training and all of them have some big league experience. Snyder played with the Rangers last season and was re-signed to a minor-league contract this offseason.

* Could Leury Garcia surprise folks and push for a roster spot? If he did, would he get enough playing time for that to be worth it?

* We could see times when Mitch Moreland is on the bench against certain left-handed pitchers with perhaps Pierzynski playing first base or even Lance Berkman later in the season if his knees are OK.

* Other names headed to spring training: outfielders Aaron Cunningham and Jim Adduci. We'll see what they've got in terms of depth.

It will be interesting to see how the bench shakes out and if the Rangers will make additions and alterations to it. In past spring trainings, we've seen the utility infield spot go down to the wire with candidates coming in and out of camp. And it could be a spot that the club looks to upgrade at the trade deadline, depending on how things are going.

Who do you think gets the utility infield spot?