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Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Craig Gentry's goal is clear: Start in CF

By Richard Durrett

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Craig Gentry was on hand as the Texas Rangers trailer was packed and headed off for Surprise, Ariz., on Tuesday afternoon at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The outfielder can't wait to arrive and will do so this weekend in preparation for the 2012 season.

"I want to play every day and do whatever I can to help the team win," Gentry said. "I've worked hard this offseason to do that. I feel like I've got a good chance."

Gentry said his focus is putting together quality at-bats and getting on base, where he can make things happen. He was 18-for-18 in stolen bases in the regular season in 2011 and would like to add to that total even more in 2012.

"I want to make stuff happen on the basepaths," Gentry said. "I feel like my defense is there. If I put together better ABs, I think I got a good shot."

Gentry, 28, hit .271 with one homer and 13 RBIs in 64 games for the Rangers in 2011. He was called up on May 7 when Nelson Cruz went on the disabled list and stayed on the active roster the entire season, except for a 13-day stint on the concussion DL. He has battled various injuries in the past that have slowed his progress, but he's determined to stay healthy and prove this spring that he can be the starting center fielder.

Gentry's plan this offseason was to get as many additional at-bats as possible in the Dominican Republic in winter ball. But after four games, he suffered a groin injury that sidelined him for a few weeks. He came back and played the final five games of the season before heading home.

"I didn't accomplish everything I wanted to, but I'm trying to take some positives out of it," Gentry said.

Gentry said he returned home with some specific mechanical things he wanted to fix in his swing and has worked with hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh to do that. He's looking forward to a big opportunity this spring to prove himself.

"I'm excited this year because I feel like I have a really solid chance to be an everyday player," Gentry said. "In years past, I've been that guy that would scratch to maybe make the team. I'm excited about this year and ready to get it going."