SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Shin-Soo Choo started in right field for the Rangers on Wednesday against the Indians. That may not be where he'll play on Opening Day.With the re-emergence of Delino DeShields this spring and Jurickson Profar tearing up the World Baseball Classic, the possibility is growing that Choo's best
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Shin-Soo Choo started in right field for the Rangers on Wednesday against the Indians. That may not be where he'll play on Opening Day.
With the re-emergence of Delino DeShields this spring and Jurickson Profar tearing up the World Baseball Classic, the possibility is growing that Choo's best spot for the Rangers is designated hitter.
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He is fine with that.
"I know I can play in the field," Choo said. "But if it makes the team better, whether that's DH, I can do that. I play for the team. We have only one goal and that's to win the World Series. So I would be happy to do it. That's why I am here.
"It's not what's best for me, it's what's best for the team."
Manager Jeff Banister is far from ready to announce his Opening Day lineup and has not had any definitive discussions with Choo about his situation. Choo will play both the outfield and at DH, but at a ratio to be determined. Banister said he and Choo have had conversations but nothing that's definitive.
"I can see a lineup with Choo at DH and I can see a lineup with Choo in the outfield," Banister said. "I can see a lineup with [Nomar] Mazara and Choo both in the outfield. We've got flexibility in the lineup I have confidence in. If you start saying things are strict and definitive would be unfair."
Restricting Choo to designated hitter would also go against the Rangers' goal of maintaining as much flexibility and versatility as possible on that roster.
"We don't want anybody's defensive skills to atrophy," Banister said. "We want to improve our defensive skills all over the board. We want to be a premium defensive team. The only way to do that is to have them on the field."
The Rangers' main goal is to get Choo ready offensively. Over his last 162 games, Choo is hitting .275 with 107 runs scored, 30 doubles, 23 home runs, 82 RBIs, .382 on-base percentage and a .447 slugging percentage. Injuries have kept Choo off the field but they haven't eroded his offensive skills.
"That's why I have confidence and trust," Choo said. "I have done it before. If I'm healthy and can play a full season, my numbers will be there."
Choo had just two hits in 16 at-bats through his first eight games of the Cactus League with two walks and seven strikeouts. Banister said the most important thing for Choo right now is to see as many pitches as possible.
That could be in the Cactus League, Minor Leagues or even a unique drill in the batting cages. Choo will stand in against a pitching machine and a number will be written on the baseball before it's delivered. If Choo can tell what the number is, he is seeing the baseball well.
"I played in just 48 games last year so I missed seeing a ton of pitches," Choo said. "The other day I was down 0-2 in the count, worked my way back to 3-2 and then swung at a bad pitch. That means I tried to rush it and was too aggressive."
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.