Ian Kinsler happy to stay at second
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Texas Rangers infielder Ian Kinsler said he expressed a desire to stay at second base rather than move to first base to club officials in a meeting last month, but didn't draw "a line in the sand" about it.
He said he was excited to learn this week that he'd be remaining at second, a position he's had since 2006, and is motivated to bounce back after struggling in 2012.
"Last year was a bad year, but I don't think I'm on a decline," Kinsler said. "You have a bad year and all of a sudden you're a terrible baseball player? I think over seven years I've been pretty successful. I want to bounce back. It's motivating. You don't want to have a bad year to motivate yourself, but when it happens, you're motivated."
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General manager Jon Daniels announced Monday that the club was planning on starting the season with Kinsler at second and Mitch Moreland at first, despite broaching the idea of moving Kinsler to first base earlier in the offseason. The move would have created a spot for top prospect Jurickson Profar to play every day in the big leagues. Profar will likely start the season in Triple-A Round Rock. Kinsler said he's expecting to take all of his ground balls at second base in spring training.
Kinsler said early last month that he was willing to move positions if needed. But in a 4½-hour meeting with a few Rangers officials and Kinsler's agent, Jay Franklin, prior to Christmas, Kinsler talked about wanting to stay at second.
"We just talked about different scenarios and where the club was headed and how Ian was feeling," Franklin said. "It was a very good meeting."
Kinsler said that the more he thought about things, the more he felt he could help the club at second base.
"Initially, it's I don't want to be this resistance to maybe something that is bigger than me or someone sees something from the outside that I don't see," Kinsler said. "I didn't want to be that resistance at all.
"Second base is where I want to play and I still feel I have a lot to give this team in that position. It's nice that I'm at a position where I think I'll help us win."
Kinsler, 30, is coming off disappointing 2012 season. He batted .256 in the leadoff spot and had a .326 on-base percentage, his lowest as a professional. Kinsler had 19 home runs (13 fewer than 2011) and 21 stolen bases (nine fewer than 2011). He also committed 18 errors, which tied a career-high.
An ankle injury, which required offseason surgery prior to the 2012 campaign, bothered him until July and Kinsler admitted that it hurt his ability on the bases. He says his ankle feels good and he's working both on his speed and his swing this offseason.
"Last year obviously wasn't my best year," Kinsler said. "I don't think that changes the way I work. I'm preparing to have the best season I can possibly have. You look on the back of anyone's baseball card and there's always a bad year. My goal now is to rebound and have an MVP-caliber season I'm expected to have."
Kinsler has been working out with Craig Gentry and said having another set of eyes from a teammate is helpful in the cages as he prepares for spring training. Kinsler said he feels he can be better at the plate, on the bases and in the field.
He said he hasn't heard from World Baseball Classic officials, so he doesn't expect to play in the event. That means he'd be with the Rangers for all of spring training.
Manager Ron Washington said this week that his plan is for Kinsler to remain the club's leadoff hitter. Kinsler has been the primary leadoff hitter four of the last five seasons.