ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 23: Craig Gentry #23 of the Texas Rangers celebrates a win against the Seattle Mariners at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on September 23, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Craig Gentry
There are several possibilities for who could be manning center field in 2012 for the two-time defending AL champion Texas Rangers, and none of them are Josh Hamilton.
The club made the move last season to try to curb Hamilton's time in center and play him more in left field to try to prevent injury. Of course, he injured himself sliding head-first into home and missed a month of the season. So yeah, the guy's going to get hurt, and he's your most talented centerfielder, but the Rangers have their heart set on moving him to left, so that leaves a few options to take over in center, which manager Ron Washington says is a wide-open race right now.
The options right now include Craig Gentry, Cuban youngster Leonys Martin and Julio Borbon, who was handed the job out of spring training last season before promptly losing it and then getting injured.
Endy Chavez could possibly play into the situation but he's a free agent and probably won't be retained.
There's no question the Rangers want Martin to be the guy, but there's no guarantee he'll be ready for an everyday role when the season begins. He could possibly stand to start the season in the minors and get a call-up in June or July.
Gentry is more than capable of manning the position for spurts of time, as he showed last season. Plus, he's a valuable weapon on the basepaths with his unmatched speed.
Borbon seems to have fallen out of favor with the club, but they were incredibly encouraged by what he was showing heading into the 2011 season and were hoping to get what they saw from him in his brief time in the majors back in 2009 when he was a bunting, base-stealing machine in the leadoff spot.