Smolinski Earns Roster Spot in OF | NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
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Smolinski Earns Roster Spot in OF

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    Jake Smolinski #20 of the Texas Rangers is congratulated by teammates after he scored against the Oakland Athletics in the top of the first inning at O.co Coliseum on September 18, 2014 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

    Jake Smolinski will not have to wait for a call-up to get a shot at the big leagues in 2015, as the young outfielder was told on Tuesday he would make the Opening Day roster for the Rangers as a fourth outfielder due to his defensive versatility and his ability to possibly be a good pinch-hitter.

    Smolinski was solid in his brief big-league audition in 2014, which was interrupted by an injury. The 26-year-old hit .349 last season in 24 games — in July and September — while hitting five doubles, three homers and driving in 12 runs. He was also a spark in the outfield, making a couple of really nice diving grabs.

    This spring, he's tied with fellow young outfielder Ryan Rua with eight extra-base hits, and he's batting .348 in Cactus League play.

    New manager Jeff Banister said he believes Smolinski could be a nice player off the bench and has the swing that could make him a good pinch-hitter.

    “It’s a low maintenance swing that allows him to come off the bench,” Banister told reporters.