ARLINGTON -- The Rangers are all about pitching this offseason and to this point have shown little inclination to address any perceived concerns in their lineup. That may bode well for Delino DeShields being the starting center fielder and Willie Calhoun getting a real chance to play left field.That's what
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers are all about pitching this offseason and to this point have shown little inclination to address any perceived concerns in their lineup. That may bode well for Delino DeShields being the starting center fielder and Willie Calhoun getting a real chance to play left field.
That's what general manager Jon Daniels suggested during an abbreviated Winter Meetings briefing Wednesday, although the slow-moving offseason has yet to reach the halfway point.
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"We have had some position-player discussions as well, but pitching is definitely the focus," Daniels said. "From a position-player standpoint, we are of the mindset to give all of our guys that have been here or knocking at the door a true opportunity this year.
"That doesn't mean we won't add select players that really fit our roster or what we are trying to do from a defensive mindset or complement the core group we have here. But as far as identifying everyday players as a real front-burner item, we are still focused on the pitching side."
Alluding to the defensive mindset suggests the Rangers will look at possible help in center field, with free agents Jarrod Dyson and Jonathan Jay both possibilities. Texas' zealous pursuit of pitching likely precludes the club from getting involved with a front-line center fielder like Lorenzo Cain or Carlos Gomez. But that could change if the Rangers don't satisfactorily address their pitching needs and seek alternative ways to improve the team.
Calhoun, a left-handed hitter, has shown the offensive ability to be the everyday left fielder after hitting .300 with 31 home runs, 93 RBIs and a .572 slugging percentage in Triple-A this past season. But the Rangers still want to see how he handles the position defensively, while Ryan Rua, a right-handed hitter, remains a viable alternative.
If Calhoun takes over in left, it could allow the Rangers to anchor Nomar Mazara in right and allow him to concentrate on developing his defensive skills. Mazara has commuted between left and right field the past two years. He appeared to have played better defensively in right this past season.
The Rangers also haven't publicly stated their defensive plans for Joey Gallo, who led the team with 41 home runs. The bat is of vital importance, but the defensive position is unknown.
Gallo played third, first and left field last season. The immediate opening is at first base with the free-agent departure of Mike Napoli, although Gallo still has a strong desire to play third.
"I think he has played very well at all the positions he has played," manager Jeff Banister said. "Listen, we would probably like to get to the point where he has the opportunity to be flexible inside that lineup. Obviously, he has earned the right to come to Spring Training and play and focus in on being a Major League player. As we sit today, to say he is focused in one position, I think that would be unfair just based on the construction of the entire roster right now."
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.