Monday, January 7, 2013
Ian Kinsler to stay at second base
By Richard Durrett
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said the plan is for Ian Kinsler to start the 2013 season at second base, meaning it's likely that top prospect Jurickson Profar will start the season in the minors.
Daniels said that unless Profar and prospect Mike Olt have everyday positions in the majors, they'd probably start the season in the minors. And at this point it doesn't appear they do.
"Unless they had a regular spot, it doesn't necessarily make sense," Daniels said Monday. "I don't see these guys as bench players. It doesn't make sense."
Of course other factors, like injuries, could change everything. But after toying with the idea of moving Kinsler to first base to make room for Profar at second, the club is going into spring training under the assumption that the infield will be Mitch Moreland at first, Kinsler at second, Adrian Beltre at third and Elvis Andrus at shortstop.
"The more we've talked about it both internally and with Ian, it didn't seem like something we wanted to force," Daniels said. "You can make a good case for it, but we believe in Mitch Moreland."
Daniels said the club is pleased by Moreland's work this offseason, which included hiring a left-handed batting practice pitcher so he could get extra swings off a live arm. Moreland has struggled against left-handed pitching in his career, batting .232 in 177 at-bats.
Daniels also likes the idea of breaking in Profar or Olt to an everyday role during the season if it presents itself, taking some of the pressure off. But Daniels also said the front office will do what's best for the club. At this point, they feel it's with Moreland at first and Kinsler at second.
"Why put unnecessary pressure on a young player that's moving two veteran players?" Daniels said.
Profar, who topped ESPN.com's Keith Law's top-50 prospects in the middle of the 2012 season, made his big league debut in September. He hit a home run in his first major-league at-bat, becoming just the third teenager to do so. He also had a double in that game. He ended up 3-for-17 and played in just nine games. Should he start in the minors, he may not accrue enough days in the big leagues to reach a year of service time, which would allow the club to keep him under control for a little longer.
Olt came up Aug. 2 and played in 16 games, going 5-for-33 (.152). He battled plantar fasciitis and didn't play for much of September. Olt is considered one of the top defensive third baseman in the minors and played in the Futures Game (with Profar) as part of last year's All-Star festivities.
Profar batted .281 tih 14 homers and 62 RBIs for Double-A Frisco in 2012. He had 16 stolen bases and drew 66 walks (with 79 strikeouts). Olt hit .288 in 95 games with Frisco last season. He had 28 homers and 82 RBIs.