KANSAS CITY -- Drew Robinson went into the All-Star break as a utility player and came out as the Rangers' starting left fielder. He was in left field for Friday night's series opener against Royals right-hander Jason Hammel.Robinson, a left-handed hitter, played in just four games for the Rangers in
KANSAS CITY -- Drew Robinson went into the All-Star break as a utility player and came out as the Rangers' starting left fielder. He was in left field for Friday night's series opener against Royals right-hander Jason Hammel.
Robinson, a left-handed hitter, played in just four games for the Rangers in the first half, going 3-for-11 with two home runs and three walks. But the Rangers are leaning toward giving him an extended look at least against right-handed pitching. He went 0-for-3 with a walk in a 5-3 victory.
"Drew has earned the opportunity to face right-handers based on the at-bats," manager Jeff Banister said. "The flexibility of Drew and where we can play him at different positions, we can maneuver him around the lineup against right-handers."
Robinson has the ability to play every position on the field except pitcher and catcher. He was in the lineup on Friday instead of Mike Napoli as Shin-Soo Choo started at designated hitter and Joey Gallo was at first base.
Napoli began the season as the everyday first baseman. But Gallo has started 20 of 37 games at first base ever since third baseman Adrian Beltre returned from the disabled list on May 29. Napoli has started 15.
Napoli hit .190 with a .266 on-base percentage and a .421 slugging percentage against right-handers in the first half.
"I don't know if it's a reduction in playing time for him," Banister said. "We are looking on any given night with different matchups to find a way to extend the lineup. Mike Napoli in that lineup is always a threat. It's a combination of how we extend innings and capitalize on as much on-base as we can with our lineup. Drew has earned the opportunity to go out and face right-handers."
Gallo was in the lineup after getting four days off to rest his sore left hamstring that has been bothering him since Spring Training.
"I don't think four days will get rid of it completely," Banister said. "What four days did was able to get him off it, get treatment, get rid of the soreness and give him the confidence of feeling good. Anytime anything is nagging at you for a prolonged period of time, it can wear on you."
• Right-hander Keone Kela, on the disabled list with a sore right shoulder, is feeling good while throwing on flat ground, but the Rangers want to see him throw at least a couple of sessions off the mound before he is activated. He has yet to throw off a mound since being placed on the DL on July 1.
• Right-hander A.J. Griffin, on the DL with a strained left intercostal muscle, is in Arizona getting ready to start throwing batting practice. He is eligible to be activated on July 26.
• Catcher Robinson Chirinos started on Friday with left-hander Martin Perez on the mound. Jonathan Lucroy is expected to start on Saturday with lefty Cole Hamels pitching.
T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.