ARLINGTON -- Rangers utility infielder Jurickson Profar is being listed as one of five players "to watch" for the Silver Slugger Award among American League shortstops.That may seem strange, considering Profar has only started 61 games at shortstop. But it can also be viewed as further validation that Profar is
ARLINGTON -- Rangers utility infielder Jurickson Profar is being listed as one of five players "to watch" for the Silver Slugger Award among American League shortstops.
That may seem strange, considering Profar has only started 61 games at shortstop. But it can also be viewed as further validation that Profar is almost all the way back after having his once-promising career nearly derailed by shoulder problems.
"He has had an exceptional year," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "Second on the team in RBIs, the games played, the positions he has played, the power he has shown, the extra-base hits. ... This has been a real year for him."
Profar was once one of the top Minor League prospects in baseball, but missed all of 2014-15 because of a torn muscle in his right shoulder. He has been trying to climb back to that lofty level, but it hasn't been easy. Last year, he played just 22 games in the big leagues and hit .172.
Multiple injuries in the Rangers' infield this season to Rougned Odor, Elvis Andrus and Adrian Beltre gave Profar the chance to play regularly at different positions, and he has made the most of it. He went into Wednesday's game against the Rays hitting .256 with 78 runs scored, 33 doubles, six triples, 18 home runs and 74 RBIs. His .339 on-base percentage and .461 slugging percentage gave him an .800 OPS for the season.
"It has been pretty good," Profar said. "Having the chance to play on an everyday basis and to help the team is good. I'm happy with that."
But Profar still doesn't think he is all the way back, nor as good as he can be.
"I'm not there yet, but I think we're going in the right direction," Profar said. "I have a lot to get better, especially defensively. My defense was terrible. I made a lot of throwing errors. I've got to fix that to be a better player."
Terrible is a harsh assessment considering he played four different positions. But his 22 errors overall were tied with Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers for the most in the American League going into Wednesday.
"I have to be better," Profar said. "I'm not a 20-error guy. I want to be able to win a Gold Glove one day, so I have to get better, especially with my throwing."
To win a Gold Glove, it might help if Profar played just one position.
"I know ... I know," Profar said. "But for right now, I don't think I'm going to play one position in the field. Let's see what the plan is for next year. I'm ready for anything."
For one thing, Beltre could retire, allowing Profar to play regularly at third base.
"No ... I don't want him to go," Profar said. "We want another year with him around. We are going to be better next year."
There is also a possibility that Andrus could opt out of his contract, opening up shortstop for Profar.
"He's not leaving," Profar said. "We're all going to be here. We're all going to play."
What the Rangers really need is pitching -- and Profar was a pitcher for Curacao when it won the Little League World Series in 2004.
"No, I'm not going to pitch," Profar said with a smile.
The final possibility is Profar could be traded for pitching. The Rangers have entertained that idea in the past, but his trade value was too low because of the shoulder. That may no longer be the case. But Profar has also proven to be a valuable member because of his versatility, even with the harsh assessment of his defensive performance this season.
"I like the fact that he has the highest expectations for himself," Banister said. "You need that to continue to improve. I'm glad he is not satisfied. I wouldn't be as harsh in the assessment. I look at it a little differently: I'm not as critical, but there is room for improvement. I can't give you a definitive answer of where he is going to line up defensively on a consistent basis. There is still an element of moving around."
• Outfielder Joey Gallo remains day-to-day with a bruised pinky toe on his right foot.
• Banister said outfielders Carlos Tocci and Drew Robinson, and pitchers Connor Sadzeck and Yohander Mendez are all candidates to play winter ball in the offseason.
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.