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Kiner-Falefa's rare versatility a boon for roster

'He proved to us he can play everywhere,' Wakamatsu says
MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

SEATTLE -- Isiah Kiner-Falefa has emulated a Hall of Famer this season. There are very few examples in Major League history of a utility player being able to play both infield and catcher in the same season.

But Roger Bresnahan was able to do it 100 years ago when he was a catcher for the Orioles, Giants, Cardinals and Reds in the early part of the 20th century. Bresnahan had 974 career games at catcher but also spent 111 games at the four infield positions and 281 more in the outfield.

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SEATTLE -- Isiah Kiner-Falefa has emulated a Hall of Famer this season. There are very few examples in Major League history of a utility player being able to play both infield and catcher in the same season.

But Roger Bresnahan was able to do it 100 years ago when he was a catcher for the Orioles, Giants, Cardinals and Reds in the early part of the 20th century. Bresnahan had 974 career games at catcher but also spent 111 games at the four infield positions and 281 more in the outfield.

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That's the versatility Kiner-Falefa brought to the Rangers this season. The question is if that will be his role going forward or if the Rangers need to leave him at one position.

Video: TB@TEX: Kiner-Falefa makes backhand stop from knee

"Good question," manager Don Wakamatsu said. "This has been a good year to see what we have. He proved to us he can play anywhere on the diamond. We put him behind the plate to see what we have. I think he is tired now because of the grind. We love the versatility, as we design the roster going forward, that's going to help us."

That's fine with Kiner-Falefa. He was drafted in 2013 as an infielder and didn't start catching until 2016. He had just 69 games in the Minor Leagues as a catcher before this season. But he understands that right now his best role in the big leagues will be as a utility player.

"Whatever the teams asks," Kiner-Falefa said. "My main thing is to be back in the big leagues at a high level. I am going to do everything I can to help the team win. I love the infield, I'd like to play the infield, they know that, but it's kind of the same way with catching.

"That's what made me unique, to be able to do both, so I think moving forward, that's what I am going to do. It's fun, it's special, not many guys can do it so that's why I enjoy doing it."

Video: TB@TEX: Kiner-Falefa tags out Kiermaier at the plate

Catching is the bigger need for the Rangers. Utility infielders are easy to find. If the Rangers pin Kiner-Falefa to one position, it would likely be as a catcher. But Wakamatsu said he is not at the point yet where he can be considered an everyday catcher.

"Not yet, for me he hasn't," Wakamatsu said. "But for perspective, I don't know, in all the years in the game, I can't remember putting a catcher back there who had previously caught less than 100 games [in the Minors]. This year has allowed us to do that, test the waters and see what we have. I look at it, there is a lot left to educate and teach. It's too early to make the decision whether he is an everyday guy yet."

The decision is not pressing. The Rangers have an option on Robinson Chirinos for next season that they are almost assuredly going to pick up. A second season of Chirinos and Kiner-Falefa sharing the duties appears to be the obvious scenario. That will give Kiner-Falefa another year to show he could one day take over the position full-time.

"It's tough, it's not easy," Kiner-Falefa said. "There is a lot to learn, I'm kind of learning on the fly. The more experience I get the better."

Beltre wants finish on field
Adrian Beltre had the day off on Thursday and is scheduled to be used at designated hitter on Friday and Saturday. He is hoping to play third base on Sunday for the final game of the season.

That could be Betre's final game of his career if he decides to retire this winter. He said he hasn't made that decision yet, but would like to play third base on Sunday. The issue is he is dealing with a sore right hip.

"It's up to him to what he wants to do and is able to do," Wakamatsu said. "I know he wants to be on the field the last day, we don't know in what capacity. However he wants to finish the season, we'll honor that."

Rangers beat
Jurickson Profar hit his 20th home run on Wednesday, the 13th time that has been accomplished by a Rangers switch-hitter and the first time since Milton Bradley in 2008. Ruben Sierra did it five times, Mark Teixeira four and Mickey Tettleton twice.

Video: TEX@LAA: Profar drives 433-ft. jack for 20th homer

• Beltre hit his 15th home run on Wednesday, the 18th time he has hit that many in a season. He is the 11th player to have as many as 18 seasons with at least 15 home runs.

Video: TEX@LAA: Beltre ties Thomas on RBI list with 15th HR

Beltre has eight home runs in September, tying him for the most in the American League. He is the fifth player in Major League history to hit at least that many at the age of 39 or older. The others were Darrell Evans, Rafael Palmeiro, Willie Stargell and Moises Alou.

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.

Texas Rangers, Isiah Kiner-Falefa