Notes: Will center field be a platoon?

February, 21, 2013
2/21/13
11:46
AM CT
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Much of Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington's chat with the media Thursday focused on center field. Leonys Martin will get the start in the first spring game Friday against the Kansas City Royals, but Washington added that Craig Gentry would get one start over the weekend and so would Julio Borbon.

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But it's clear that this isn't a guaranteed platoon situation. If no one steps up and seizes the spot, it's certainly possible that center field would be Martin against most right-handed pitchers and Gentry against lefties. But the skipper said it's an open competition and nothing has been decided. Asked if Martin could win an everyday job this spring, Washington said, "We have to just let it play out."

"He will get opportunity to play," Washington said. "I think Leonys Martin and Gentry and Borbon will answer that question as we go through spring training."

The Rangers invested $15.5 million in Martin and now is his chance to earn the job. The 24-year-old could get more time to show his stuff in center field with Nelson Cruz at the WBC because Gentry could get at-bats in the corners while Cruz is gone.

Washington said not to assume anything about center field and how it may line up on Opening Day. But it's clear that how Martin and the rest of them play in the Cactus League will help determine how this lines up.

Other notes:

*
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Adrian Beltre and Lance Berkman are nursing calf injuries and will not play in Friday's Cactus League game. Mike Olt isn't expected to play right field until outfield coach Gary Pettis has signed off that he's ready to play. But with Beltre out, Olt would slide in at third. The rest of the starters should play Friday.

* With Berkman out, Jeff Baker will be the DH. Baker is a utility candidate and a guy that can come off the bench when needed. He can play first, second, third and the outfield. The one thing he can't do is play shortstop. Washington has been impressed with Baker so far in camp.

"He's a pro," Washington said. "He's certainly very calm. He can play positions out there. He's not rattled by anything and that's because of the time he's had in the game."

* World Baseball Classic teams are attempting to finalize their rosters today and as of now, there are six Rangers on the provisional rosters for the first round. They are:

Elvis Andrus, Venezuela; Engel Beltre and Gabe Suarez, Spain; Derek Holland, USA; Nelson Cruz and Leury Garcia, Dominican Republic and Jose Felix, Mexico.

Garcia has not decided if he's going to play and said Thursday morning that he wanted to talk it over with Rangers officials before making a decision.

"It's an honor to be asked," Garcia said. "It would be fun. But I want to talk to (Rangers officials) first."

General manager Jon Daniels said that Garcia, like Profar, has a difficult choice in that he's still in the mix for a utility job this spring.

"These are young guys and it's an unbelievable honor to represent your country," Daniels said. "The flip side it's their first big league camp and they want to do everything they can to make the club. What's missed in that too is that you're not just trying to make the club on Opening Day, but that opportunity may be in May or July, and if you're a young guy that time in front of the big league manager and decision-makers is valuable. I understand these are tough calls. It's an honor that he has to seriously consider."

Daniels is glad that Felix is playing, noting that he's going to start in the minors and any time in that kind of competitive environment is good for him.

* Washington said that his bunters did a better job in Wednesday's intrasquad game, but he still wants them focused getting sacrifice bunts past the pitcher. That makes it very difficult to get anyone thrown out at second or third on a sac attempt. But he was pleased that the bunts got down and that only one runner was thrown out at third during the drills in the intrasquad game.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Adrian Beltre
BA HR RBI R
.341 13 50 50
OTHER LEADERS
HRA. Beltre 13
RBIA. Beltre 50
RA. Beltre 50
OPSA. Beltre .930
WY. Darvish 8
ERAY. Darvish 2.97
SOY. Darvish 142