T.R. Sullivan and Richard Durrett each have some notes up today, and among the items prominently featured by each is the issue of the Rangers' outfield and bench makeup.
1. Who will play center field? Right now Julio Borbon has out-played Craig Gentry. Right now the Rangers are frustrated that Gentry has had multiple physical issues and has not had a great spring. They know Gentry’s right-handed bat fits better with David Murphy, who hits left-handed, and that would allow Josh Hamilton to move back-and-forth between left and center. But Borbon has had a good spring although he has cooled off a bit lately.
The Rangers continue to search for a right-handed outfield bat that could essentially platoon with David Murphy. This is the time when some teams may start to trim rosters and make more guys available. The question is whether the club will find a suitable option that's better than what they have currently. Craig Gentry hasn't seized the spot this spring as the club hoped, but he's still got time. He left Sunday's game because of dehydration.
Sullivan also mentions the Rangers' desire for a righthanded bench bat, saying that Conor Jackson could have won a job if he'd hit better this spring.
The Rangers clearly had hoped at one point that Leonys Martin would be ready to claim the centerfield job this season. By the start of spring training, those hopes had faded, and he never seemed to really be in the mix.
The Rangers are, I think it is fair to say, over Julio Borbon. He's had a chance two years in a row, and flopped each time. He's basically turned into the new Chris Davis, having come up and excited everyone with a great performance in his first partial season in the majors, followed by a couple of bad seasons in a row that has the organization ready to move on and the player, most likely, ready for a fresh start elsewhere. Borbon's problems are compounded by the fact that he's a lefthanded hitter, which means he can't platoon with David Murphy.
And then there is Craig Gentry. He's a fan favorite and has a lot of people pushing for him to get regular playing time, but he can't seem to stay healthy (which is even more of a problem given that Nelson Cruz and Josh Hamilton have the same problem), and the organization doesn't seem to think he can hit. He's a great defender and baserunner, but if he can't stay on the field,* and doesn't hit, he's your 25th guy on the roster.
* Gentry's regular season games played, majors and minors combined, by season:
2006 -- 56 (this was the year he was drafted)
2007 -- 109
2008 -- 94
2009 -- 138
2010 -- 89
2011 -- 94
Gentry has missed time due to an injury every full season as a professional other than 2009.
The fact that the Rangers are looking for a righthanded bat to platoon with Murphy would seem to suggest that they are looking for a centerfielder, since I don't think they want Hamilton to be starting 150 games in center. And if the Rangers find someone like that to put on the roster, it would make Gentry and Borbon both superfluous. So you could see a situation where the bench ends up being Mystery RH Outfielder, UIF, Yorvit Torrealba, and either Conor Jackson (as a RH bench bat) or Luis Martinez (making Torrealba your RH bench bat, and allowing Napoli to play more DH and 1B).
That could put us in a situation where, remarkably, the Rangers' AAA outfield would consist of Julio Borbon, Leonys Martin, and Craig Gentry, the three players who were originally thought to be vying for two jobs on the Opening Day roster, and who would then be in limbo in Round Rock, waiting for someone to get hurt.