There might not be a better development in spring training so far for the Texas Rangers than the play of Leonys Martin, who was scratched from the Rangers' Cactus League lineup on Wednesday, which happened to be his 25th birthday.
But the Cuban centerfielder returned to the lineup on Thursday and continued his streak as one of the best hitters the Rangers have had so far this spring.
In his return to the lineup, Martin went 1-for-2 with three RBIs — a two-run single and a sacrifice fly. He now is second on the team this spring with five RBIs and has been a great situational hitter throughout the spring, which is something both manager Ron Washington and new hitting coach Dave Magadan have to be drooling over given the Rangers' problem in that part of the game last season.
Martin is in a battle for the starting center field gig with fan favorite Craig Gentry and both are having good springs at the plate with Martin hitting .391 with a .464 on-base percetange and Gentry hitting .316 with a .480 on-base percentage. But Martin is getting more at-bats than Gentry as the Rangers seem to know Gentry's ceiling, while Martin's is kind of unlimited at this point.
Gentry will see his share of playing time in 2013 but as things stand now, it looks like Martin is playing himself into a starting role when the season opens on March 31 in Houston.