SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JUNE 08: Craig Gentry #23 of the Texas Rangers hits an RBI single against the San Francisco Giants during the fourth inning of an interleague game at AT&T Park on June 8, 2012 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
Coming out of spring training, Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington said he was most excited about centerfielder Craig Gentry's performance in Cactus League play, when the speedy veteran, who's long been nothing more than a platoon player getting 2-3 starts a week wowed with his bat.
Over the course of the spring, while locked in a battle for the center field job with Leonys Martin, Gentry hit .351 with a .431 on-base percentage, three doubles, three triples, two homers and a perfect 7-for-7 on stolen base attempts. He walked more than he struck out.
Martin got the starting nod on Opening Night in Houston and went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts, looking lost at the plate at times. Washington decided to roll with Gentry on Tuesday night, despite the fact a right-handed pitcher was on the mound, and Gentry rose to the occasion, possibly pulling ahead of Martin in the battle for playing time.
Gentry went 2-for-4 in the 9-hole and scored twice. He also struck out twice, but his hits were big — a triple and a ground-rule double that could've easily been a triple if a Houston fan hadn't reached down and grabbed the ball.
Martin is back in the lineup for today's series finale against another righty, but Gentry made a large stride on Tuesday, having a good game against a righty when it was assumed he'd only get starts against lefties.