Without Cruz, Rangers mull outfield options
ANAHEIM -- Life without Nelson Cruz began for the Rangers on Monday night against the Angels. It began with outfielders Joey Butler and Engel Beltre being called up from Triple-A Round Rock and infielder Adam Rosales being designated for assignment.
It also began with David Murphy in right field on Monday night with right-hander Jerome Williams on the mound for the Angels. Beltre started in left and Leonys Martin in center, giving the Rangers three left-handed hitters in the outfield.
The Rangers also had three right-handed hitters on the bench who can play the outfielder in Butler, Craig Gentry and Jeff Baker. The Rangers could end up platooning at all three outfield spots while Cruz is suspended.
"We're going to use the whole roster and continue to play Texas Rangers baseball," manager Ron Washington said.
Murphy could alternate between right and left field. Butler has a plus arm, so when he's in the lineup, Washington will likely start him in right field. Butler will likely see most of his playing time against left-handers. He was hitting .321 with a .532 slugging percentage against left-handers at Round Rock. This is his first time in the big leagues.
"Joey's done everything we've asked of him," general manager Jon Daniels said. "He's hit every way up the ladder, every spot in the organization. Especially, he's always hit against left-handers, he plays a solid right field, he has a strong arm. The way the roster is constructed right now there is no way to replace Nellie's production with any one player. We're looking to get guys who are going to fit together as a team and probably utilize platoons in a couple of spots."
The Rangers are still talking to other teams about possible outfielders who are available. But Daniels isn't optimistic, especially because players who are traded must first pass through waivers.
"We go through the waiver balloon every day and make decisions on who we would claim," Daniels said. "Obviously there's some strategy to it for potentially blocking guys. We're mainly looking at it as guys we can use on our club. We're realistic about it. You don't see that many impactful trades made this time of year.
"We're looking at this as we're looking this going forward with our club and we like our team. Obviously Nelson is a big source of power and production for us and again we're not expecting to truly replace that. But we have some other players here who we think can do some different things and give Wash some options to mix and match. Wash has done a tremendous job of that all year and we're going to have to keep doing it."
Butler was a 15th-round pick for the Rangers in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of New Orleans. He has played in 688 Minor League games before finally getting the call on Monday. That includes 347 games over the past three years at Triple-A.
"I'm at a loss for words," Butler said. "It's a humbling experience. I'm excited, there's not much more to say."