"Rua is a left fielder who can play multiple positions," Banister said. "A utility player is a guy who you have on your bench who can play multiple roles. Guys who can play multiple positions and the quality of their at-bats doesn't diminish, they are invaluable."
Rua has played all four infield positions in the Minor Leagues as well as left field. The Rangers, after activating him off the disabled list on Friday, want him to concentrate on left field and third base. He could play first if the Rangers need him.
Right now there is a greater need in left field, but that may be only temporary until Josh Hamilton comes back off the disabled list. Once Hamilton and third baseman Adrian Beltre are ready, Rua's strength will be as a multi-functional player.
"It's definitely a position that can help out the team," Rua said. "If somebody needs a day off or is in a slump, it's a valuable position to be in. You look at [Adam Rosales]. He has done an incredible job at it his entire career."
Rua was the Rangers' Opening Day left fielder but went down for two months with a fracture in his right heel.
"Everything feels good," Rua said. "I feel the ankle every once in a while, but it's not sharp. Just a little achy. It's something to deal with, but it doesn't affect me physically or mentally."
Worth noting: • Hamilton, on the disabled list because of a strained left hamstring, is expected to work out with Double-A Frisco on Sunday, take Monday off and then work out with the Rangers on Tuesday. At that point, the Rangers will decide if he is ready for a medical rehabilitation assignment.
• Matt Harrison allowed six runs on nine hits in a 9-3 loss to Iowa on Friday night. It was his fourth start on rehab assignment as he finishes his recovery from back surgery. Harrison has room for two more starts during his 30-day rehab assignment before the Rangers have to make a decision to activate him. He will likely get both of those starts, especially since there is no room in the rotation. Rangers starters have a 1.71 ERA in their last 15 games.
• Pitcher Phil Klein has been put on the disabled list at Triple-A Round Rock with a strained right elbow. He has not pitched for the Express since being optioned on May 28.
• When the Rangers designated Jake Smolinski for assignment, it left them without a true backup center fielder behind Leonys Martin. Banister said Shin-Soo Choo could play there if needed and said Joey Gallo might get a look there as well.
• The Rangers will not make up for a shortage of outfielders by using Mitch Moreland out there. He has played there before, but Banister does not want to risk a leg injury by using Moreland in the outfield.