ARLINGTON, Texas – Texas Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler said general manager Jon Daniels talked to him to gauge his interest in moving to first base, though Kinsler said nothing was decided. The infielder said he would play first if asked.
“It’s more about how would you feel about playing first base – that kind of thing,” Kinsler said Tuesday at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington before signing autographs as part of the club’s Cowboy Santas Toy Drive. “It’s not like a direct ‘You’re going to first.’ My feeling is whatever I need to (do to) help this team win. Honestly, if they believe putting me at first base is going to field a better team, I’m all for it. Bottom line is I signed a long-term extension to win a championship. If they think me at first is going to help us win a championship, I’m all for it.”
The Rangers haven’t made any firm calls on what they’re going to do in the infield in 2013, but they seem to be leaning heavily toward making Jurickson Profar an everyday player. If that’s the case and no other infielders are traded, they could put Profar at second base and move Kinsler to first. Kinsler said Daniels never talked to him about moving to the outfield.
The ripple effect from that move could impact Mitch Moreland, the club’s current first baseman. But with Michael Young traded, perhaps Moreland, a left-handed hitter, gets some at-bats as the designated hitter at times or plays first against certain right-handed pitchers.
Kinsler said he thinks he played a few games at first base when he was 14 years old. But he’s confident he could learn the position.
“That’s what spring training is for,” Kinsler said. “If it was a situation where I was moving to the outfield I’d have to know a little earlier because I’d have to strengthen my arm differently and I’d have to be in a little better condition as far as long-distance running. Those are really the only two differences. As far as first base, I’m still going to train the same way as far as explosiveness and trying to get my quickness back and all that kind of stuff. It can be hashed out in spring training.”
Kinsler is coming off a 2012 season that he said was obviously not “up to my standards.” He hit .256 and had a .326 on-base percentage, his lowest park as a professional, while batting leadoff. Kinsler had 19 home runs and 72 RBIs and stole 21 bases. He joined the 30-30 club (homers- stolen bases) in 2011, but couldn’t repeat the performance in 2012. Part of that was that his ankle, which was sprained in 2010, was still bothering him following offseason surgery. He said it didn’t really feel right until July and Kinsler admitted that it impacted his confidence in getting the same quick first step on the bases.
Kinsler reflected on his year and the club’s disappointing finish and wants to see more emotion and vigor from himself and his teammates in 2013.
“I want to provide more energy for this club,” Kinsler said. “I think I need to show more emotion. I think our team as a whole needs to show more emotion, more energy. That’s obviously one of my responsibilities as a player. It’s what I’m good at so I need to get back to that. As far as numbers are concerned, I think every player has up and down seasons throughout their career. It’s something you go through and there’s a lot of reasons why it happened.”
Kinsler said he was difficult to see Young, his teammate for the past seven seasons in Texas, leave for Philadelphia.
“He’s obviously extremely accomplished in a Rangers uniform,” Kinsler said. “You never want to see a player of his caliber leave the team. But I know he’s extremely excited for his opportunity. I think he’s expressed his feelings towards the last two years with this team. I think he’s excited for the opportunity. I think the Phillies got a great player. He’s got a lot of baseball left.”
Young’s departure means there’s one fewer leader in the Rangers clubhouse. It also means Kinsler is the longest-tenured Rangers player in that room.
“The goal of the team is not who the leader is. The goal of the team is to win and get back to the exciting style of baseball we had in 2009, 2010 and 2011,” Kinsler said. “Last year it just felt like there wasn’t that excitement, that energy. Regardless of who the leader is or who you guys want to say the leader is, it’s about getting the energy back in our ballclub. I’m going to do my best to provide that."