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Borbon bouncing back with Dominican squad

Rangers outfielder making up for lost time with busy winter

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- Rangers outfielder Julio Borbon doesn't have time to look back on last season.

Borbon, who is playing left field for Dominican Republic's Escogido squad in this week's Caribbean Series, is too busy concentrating on the present and thinking about his future in the big leagues to reminisce.

The outfielder will compete for the starting job in center field against Craig Gentry and Leonys Martin in Texas when he arrives in Surprise, Ariz., for Spring Training later this month. His Dominican Republic squad was undefeated after the first three games of the round-robin after defeating Puerto Rico's Indios de Mayaguez, 6-1. Puerto Rico fell to 1-2.

The Caribbean Series continues Sunday with Puerto Rico and Venezuela's Tigres de Aragua squaring off in the first game of the day followed by the Dominican Republic and Mexico's Yaquis de Obregon in the night cap.

Mexico (2-1) defeated Venezuela (0-3), 4-2, in the first game on Saturday.

"There's no reason to put any extra pressure on myself because I've proven that I have the ability to get things done out there when I'm healthy," said Borbon, who is hitless in his first six at-bats in the round-robin. "I know what I can do."

The speedy Borbon played in only 32 games for the Rangers last year and hit .270 with three triples, one double and six stolen bases before a hamstring injury sent him to the disabled list in mid-May. He eventually resumed play, combining to hit .289 with 10 doubles, four triples and 16 stolen bases in 33 games for Triple-A Round Rock and Double-A Frisco, but another injury, this time to his left ankle, led to season-ending ligament surgery.

"Last season was a tough year overall, but the way I see it, I didn't go down [to Round Rock] because of a lack of performance, it was because of an injury." he said. "I missed a lot of time and it was particularly tough with the way things were going for me when I went on the DL at the start of the season. But I'm just going to look back and learn from the good things that happened and focus on the positives I was able to get done instead of the bad."

Borbon has plenty to think about. He spent the winter playing for Escogido in the Dominican Winter League, hitting .193 with four doubles and two triples in 89 at-bats for the league champions. He sizzled at the plate during the league finals, posting a .357 batting average.

In 2010, he hit .276 in 137 games for the Rangers.

"This winter I was able to get things done and it's exactly what I needed," he said. "I got some playing time and the at-bats I missed. It's been a long season, especially when some people call it an 'offseason,' but I'm happy with the work I was able to do and I'm ready to roll into Spring Training."

Borbon, who was drafted by the Rangers in the first round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, is looking forward to the competition for the center-field spot but is not going to change his approach. He says he has been in this position before.

"When I came out for the first time in Spring Training, I wasn't really a guy they looked at that year and I went out there with the mentality of giving everything I had," he said. "Things aren't going to change this Spring Training and I'm going to go out there and do the same thing, play my game and keep things simple. That's the best way to go about it."

Borbon could return to Arizona a champion. His Escogido team is seeking its second Caribbean Series title in the last three years. A team from the Dominican Republic has won the Caribbean Series title 18 times since 1970, the most among teams currently competing in the tournament. The D.R. has also won the title 12 times since 1990.

"It's been a great experience," Borbon said. "There's not going to be much time between the end of this and the start of Spring Training, but with all of the time I missed last year, I would say it was the best thing for me to do."

Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB.
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