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Kouzmanoff making strong push for bench role

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Infielder Kevin Kouzmanoff hasn't played in the Majors since 2011, but that could change soon. Kouzmanoff is making a strong bid to win a job with the Rangers as a right-handed hitter off the bench who can play first or third base.

Kouzmanoff started at third base on Monday night with Adrian Beltre sidelined with a tight left quad muscle. Kouzmanoff, who was a regular third baseman for the Padres and Athletics from 2007-10, went into the game hitting .333 (11-for-33) with one home run and seven RBIs. He has also shown he can play first base despite limited experience there.

"Kevin Kouzmanoff has shown me exactly what I thought he could show me," manager Ron Washington said. "He's a baseball player. He knows how to play. From what I've seen, if you put him out there, he makes the plays, he gives you a good at-bat and he executes in situations. He's a baseball player."

The Rangers could have two spots for utility infielders on a four-man bench that will also include a backup catcher and a backup outfielder.

"One will be able to play shortstop and the other will play the corners," Washington said.

The Rangers trimmed their utility-infield candidates by sending Kensuke Tanaka and Andy Parrino back to the Minor Leagues on Monday. That leaves Josh Wilson, Brent Lillibridge and Adam Rosales competing for a spot.

Being able to play shortstop is a must, and Washington said all three can do that. Washington toyed with the idea of having Jurickson Profar play shortstop when Elvis Andrus needs a day off. But he would rather keep Profar anchored at second base.

"I want Profar to get all his repetitions at second base," Washington said.

Profar started at second base on Monday night against the Royals. It was his first start in the field after dealing with inflammation in his right shoulder all spring.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger.
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