Smolinski Earns Roster Spot in OF

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.

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