Surprise positional outlook: Bench

February, 3, 2012
2/03/12
12:01
AM CT
Don't discount the importance of the bench for the Rangers in 2012. The bench certainly had an impact in the World Series.

[+] EnlargeBrad Hawpe
AP Photo/Chris CarlsonBrad Hawpe is coming off Tommy John surgery but could be in the mix in the outfield and at first.
Today's position: Bench

We'll make a few assumptions as we start discussing the bench. One is that the starting outfield is Josh Hamilton, Craig Gentry and Nelson Cruz. There are no guarantees on anything, but Gentry will be given a chance to earn the job and at this point, we'll slot him there.

That leaves David Murphy as the next outfielder on the list (and someone we discussed in our left field outlook earlier this week) and puts the fifth outfield spot up for grabs. Julio Borbon, Leonys Martin and Brad Hawpe will be in camp. Martin, just like Engel Beltre, probably isn't ready for the big leagues quite yet. He hit the ball very well in Double-A last year, but then struggled at Triple-A. He's worked hard this offseason on several facets of his game and we'll see what he's got in Surprise.

RANGERS POSITION OUTLOOK
Jan. 23: Catcher
Jan. 24: First base
Jan. 25: Second base
Jan. 26: Third base
Jan. 27: Shortstop
Jan. 30: Left field
Jan. 31: Center field
Feb. 1: Right field
Feb. 2: DH/Utility
Feb. 3: Bench
Feb. 6: No. 1 starter
Feb. 7: No. 2 starter
Feb. 8: No. 3 starter
Feb. 9: No. 4 starter
Feb. 10: No. 5 starter
Feb. 13: Middle/long relief
Feb. 14: Late-inning relief
Feb. 15: Coaches
Feb. 16: Manager
Feb. 17: Front office
Hawpe is an interesting possibility, in that if he can prove he's healthy, he can play first base and the outfield. He had Tommy John surgery last season and is out to show that he can still play. He says he feels good and will be ready to go for spring training. He could figure into the mix on the bench if he shows something (he's on a minor-league deal). Brandon Snyder, signed from the Orioles organization, also plays first base and will be at spring training. Remember, of course, that Michael Young and Mike Napoli can play first on days when Mitch Moreland isn't in the lineup.

The club is still in the market for a utility player that can handle shortstop. So that's likely a bench spot there. Luis Hernandez was signed to a minor league deal and can play short, so he'll get a look. Others will trickle in as well (similar to what the club did in 2010 before deciding on Andres Blanco).

And as we discussed in our Surprise positional outlook opener, Yorvit Torrealba comes in as the backup catcher. But he'll get plenty of playing time in the heat and both Napoli and Torrealba could be in the lineup at the same time some, as well, something we saw in 2011.

So we'll see how it all shakes out. The utility infield spot and how the Rangers handle the final outfield spot in forming their bench will be interesting this spring.
Richard Durrett joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He writes about colleges, the Dallas Stars and the Texas Rangers. Richard spent nine years at The Dallas Morning News covering the Rangers, Stars, colleges, motorsports and high schools.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Martin Perez
WINS ERA SO IP
3 1.86 20 29
OTHER LEADERS
BAL. Martin .315
HRR. Chirinos 2
RBIL. Martin 9
RE. Andrus 11
OPSS. Choo .827
ERAY. Darvish 0.82
SOY. Darvish 23