Smoak Ready to Learn in First Rangers Camp

Justin Smoak is soaking up everything he can from his teammates in his first trip to the Texas Rangers' spring training.

"You get a little bit here and a little bit there from everybody," said Smoak, a non-roster invitee who was the Rangers' first-round pick last year after hitting .383 with 23 home runs and 72 RBIs for South Carolina. "It's good to hear, to see how these guys carry themselves. I just sit back and listen to what people have to say. That's all I can do right now is learn from the big guys and just go out and do what I can control."

Smoak likely will begin the season with Class AA Frisco in the Texas League.

The Rangers know Smoak has tremendous power. He didn't win the fanfest home run derby Sunday, but he did hit a few.

Texas has had Smoak out for early fundamental defensive work.

"I don't know how much work he got on the defensive end (in college) because of the way he could swing the bat," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "We want him to be complete. We're trying to do everything we can to smooth him out."

Smoak's locker is strategically placed next to slugger Josh Hamilton, who put on a show last July at the All-Star Game home run derby at Yankee Stadium. Smoak said he did not ask for any tips from Hamilton before his home run derby.

"Just watching him hit teaches me a lot. He's definitely got some power. He makes everything look easy," Smoak said.

After signing last summer, Smoak, a 21-year-old switch-hitting first baseman, hit .304 with three home runs and six RBIs in 14 games with Clinton in the Class-A Midwest League.

The Rangers sent him to the Arizona Fall League, where he hit .353 with a .538 slugging percentage with two HRs, four doubles and a triple in 16 games. Notes:@ OF Marlon Byrd, who had left knee surgery in October, will be held out of the early spring training games. "We're easing him in," Washington said. "I just want to make sure. He's been doing everything but the running part. I just want to make sure we don't aggravate that knee." While the first exhibition game is Wednesday, Washington said Byrd may not play until Sunday. ... OF Brandon Boggs has inflammation on his right shoulder and is unable to throw. "In the next few days, he'll start back on a throwing program," Washington said. "He can do everything but throw." ... SS Elvis Andrus, who was slowed by a tender left wrist, took batting practice Sunday and is expected to play in intrasquad games on Monday and Tuesday. ...Non-roster C Kevin Richardson is sidelined with a left knee strain.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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