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Profar to play mostly outfield in Classic

Rangers hope exposure gives youngster better chance to make team
Special to MLB.com

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Most Major League clubs don't have many expectations for their players in the World Baseball Classic other than to come back in one piece, but the Rangers have an interesting situation with Jurickson Profar.

Profar, 24, made his name as a middle-infield prospect, but injuries and the ascendance of Rougned Odor forced him to find other places to play. Last season, he played 25 games at third base, 19 at second, 17 at first, 14 in left field and 11 games at shortstop.

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SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Most Major League clubs don't have many expectations for their players in the World Baseball Classic other than to come back in one piece, but the Rangers have an interesting situation with Jurickson Profar.

Profar, 24, made his name as a middle-infield prospect, but injuries and the ascendance of Rougned Odor forced him to find other places to play. Last season, he played 25 games at third base, 19 at second, 17 at first, 14 in left field and 11 games at shortstop.

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At the Classic, Profar is expected to see time in the outfield with the Netherlands team.

:: 2017 World Baseball Classic ::

 "As we were talking this winter about chances where he might play and where he might fit in for us, we were looking at the reality that one of the opportunities might be in left field," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said Sunday. "Then when we spoke to the guys in the Netherlands as part of our normal due course of talking to all the different federations and how they were going to use the guys, they said, well, with Andrelton Simmons and Xander Bogaerts and Jonathan Schoop and these other guys, he's probably going to play mostly outfield.

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"We were actually pleased with that. It worked out well -- he gets a little more exposure whereas if he had left camp and was working on the infield, it would have been a two-week stretch where he didn't work at the position where he might have the best shot at making the club."

Profar has never played center field since beginning his Minor League career in 2010, but will likely do so for the Dutch team, Daniels and manager Jeff Banister said.

"I think it's a good idea -- let's see what he can do," Banister said. "Look, this is an athletic kid. I feel comfortable that we can put him anywhere on the field and he's going to perform well."

The World Baseball Classic runs from Monday through March 22. In the U.S., games will air live exclusively in English on MLB Network and on an authenticated basis via MLBNetwork.com/watch, while ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN will provide the exclusive Spanish-language coverage. MLB.TV Premium subscribers in the U.S. will have access to watch every tournament game live on any of the streaming service's 400-plus supported devices. The tournament will be distributed internationally across all forms of television, internet, mobile and radio in territories excluding the U.S., Puerto Rico and Japan. Get tickets for games at Marlins Park, Tokyo Dome, Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, Estadio Charros de Jalisco in Mexico, Petco Park, as well as the Championship Round at Dodger Stadium, while complete coverage -- including schedules, video, stats and gear -- is available at WorldBaseballClassic.com.

• The Rangers are limiting their late-inning relievers to a relatively light workload thus far, using them mostly in simulated games. But Keone Kela, coming off right elbow surgery to remove a bone spur last season, is already in "midseason form" according to Banister and Daniels.

Kela turned heads in a sim game Saturday, throwing 1 1/3 scoreless, hitless innings while striking out two.

"The report I got on Kela was exceptional," Banister said. "Really pounding the strike zone. Sharp, electric stuff, really business-like. … he looked like he was on a mission, is the way it was described to me."

• Right-hander Andrew Cashner, who has been dealing with right biceps soreness, said Sunday the issue is minor and shouldn't keep him out of action long.

"I think I just had a lot of inflammation, but I feel a lot better now and played catch the last two days and haven't had any problems. So barring anything new, I don't think I'll have any issues," Cashner said. "I think it's just more of erring on the side of caution."

Tyson Ross, a likely member of the starting rotation when he is done rehabbing following surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome, is on schedule, or perhaps ahead, for a May return. His next hurdle is a full-mound bullpen session after a half-mound session went well Friday.

"[It was about] building up my endurance and getting adjusted to that slope. I came out of it feeling good and looking forward to the next step," Ross said.

Dave Sessions is a contributor to MLB.com.

Texas Rangers, Jurickson Profar