SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers outfielder Ian Desmond has been able to adjust to center as well as left field this spring. His ability to play both could be a factor in Texas' fourth-outfielder competition.Desmond made two nice plays in center field during the Rangers' 5-0 victory over the Cubs on
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers outfielder Ian Desmond has been able to adjust to center as well as left field this spring. His ability to play both could be a factor in Texas' fourth-outfielder competition.
Desmond made two nice plays in center field during the Rangers' 5-0 victory over the Cubs on Wednesday.
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In the second inning, after Jorge Soler led off with a single, Tim Federowicz hit a drive to deep center. Desmond raced back to the warning track, made a basket catch and then fired the ball to first base. Soler was deked by first baseman Prince Fielder and got doubled off.
"I have been kind of wild with my throws, wanting to see what I got," Desmond said. "It adds knowledge to what I can do. The more throws I make, the better reference I have."
That was the first of two assists from his new position. In the third, he threw out Munenori Kawasaki trying to score from second on a Kyle Hendricks single.
"I'm not surprised how he has played," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "We talked about the baseball IQ that he has. Not only has he put in the work during regular hours, he has been out back on Field 8 during Minor League batting practice running down balls. His work ethic is off the charts. He is a tremendous athlete with a great vision of the field."
Delino DeShields is the Rangers' starting center fielder, but they want a backup behind him. Drew Stubbs and James Jones are the two options. But if Desmond can play center, it allows the Rangers to use Ryan Rua or Justin Ruggiano as their backup outfielder.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.