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December 14th, 2016

After seven seasons as a Texas Ranger, won his first Gold Glove Award in 2016, then celebrated by signing a one-year deal in Boston. With the fan favorite lovingly referred to as #OffensiveThreatMitchMoreland now manning first base at Fenway Park, and 's career ended prematurely by injury, the Rangers have a bit of a conundrum: who's on first?
Despite early speculation that the Rangers might be a front-runner for free agent , Jon Daniels reiterated Wednesday at a media luncheon: signing Encarnacion is "highly unlikely". So, as with any coming-of-age story, the search turns inward. "We have talked about some other options," Daniels said, "But I think that (a promotion from within) is the most likely course of action."
"I mean..." began with a pause and a shrug. "Yeah, I'm planning on working at first more than I did last off-season (when) I came in looking to be a third baseman, but obviously with Beltre there, and first base technically open, I'm looking at both positions and making sure I'm ready to do both."
If you listen closely enough, that might sound like a player who views first base as an opportunity while admitting that it's not his preferred position. But if Gallo is using words to refrain from saying as much, is the yin to Gallo's yang: his lack of words made his opinion clear: asked if he liked first base, he paused and gave a long knowing smile. "That's a tough question," he concluded.
It's an odd balance for Profar; he's not a malcontent, and is clearly happy just to be playing, especially after injuries cost him so much time in the game. But his positional preference is no secret: "(I prefer) middle infield," he finally admitted. "But the Rangers already have their middle infield (so) I'll just get ready and see what happens."
For all of Gallo's power and Profar's athleticism, however, the odds-on favorite to earn the bulk of the playing time might be another young Ranger with a history of position-switches: . "First base came easier to me because I've played my whole life-little league, high school, college-was all middle infield, and then when I signed, it was third base, then second base for a full year, and then third for another year and a half, then we started mixing in first base and outfield. I think just having that infield experience and a little bigger glove over there, it came a little bit easier to me."
Rua has more experience at first base than either of the more-touted prospects. He played 31 games there last season, bringing his big-league total to 44. Profar, meanwhile, surprised the baseball world when-after having never played the position at any level-started a game at first base after only a handful of workouts (he would eventually play 17 games at the position). Gallo looks the part more than than the other two, but has played as many MLB games at first base as he has in center field (just one, though he has played 40 games at the position in AAA).
It's an opportunity for all three, should they still be Rangers come February.
"It's very exciting," said Gallo with a nod. "In years past, I really didn't have a chance out of Spring Training to make the team, but this year, I really do have a real chance to make it, so (…) I think it might be more exciting, just knowing that you have a real opportunity to make the team."
Rua concurred, giving credit to his friends and competitors. "We have a number of guys that could fill that role, and all of us are ultra-competitive (…) Pro and Joey are two of the closer guys on the team that I hang out with, I talk to, I stay in touch with in the off-season, and it's exciting for all of us to have that opportunity (…) we can joke around with each other when we're doing drills and make fun of each other; we all know how we all are. We're all very competitive, and all want to be every-day players one day, but we're all at this point in our careers, willing to help the team in whatever way we can."