Notes: Leonys Martin staking claim to CF job

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The thinking entering spring training was that no matter how the center field battle ultimately played out, there would be a platoon at the position.

The Rangers have only played five Cactus League games, but one of the candidates, Leonys Martin, has performed so well that he is swaying manager Ron Washington to think someone could win the job outright.

"I'm getting him in against everyone and he isn't showing any sign of giving in to left-handers," Washington said. "If this continues, and we feel like he can handle lefties as well as righties, which he has always handled in his career, it's a possibility."

Martin displayed his improved maturity at the plate in Wednesday's game against the Chicago White Sox when he ripped an RBI triple down the right field line against a lefty. Even more impressive was that the hit came one at-bat after striking out on three pitches -- and looking fooled on each one.

Coming into camp, the left-handed hitting Martin already had a good reputation with the bat. If he lost the starting center field job, or improbably didn't make the team at all, it would have been more likely because of defensive struggles. That hasn't been the case though, as his glove has been almost as impressive as his bat.

With both Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler getting the day off, Martin is hitting leadoff Thursday and has a chance to impress Washington further while his primary competitor for the position, Craig Gentry, is out with a tight hamstring.

"I think what's happening is he knows he has a chance to probably make this team and he came here ready to play," Washington said.

So far, Martin has been the bright spot in a struggling Rangers offense, going 6-for-11 (.545) with two multi-hit games. He entered Thursday's game as the team leader in hits and ranks among the Cactus League leaders in multiple offensive categories. His six hits and two triples are tied for the MLB lead.

More notes:

  • Longtime Rangers clubhouse assistant Dave Bales left camp to serve as the equipment manager for Valenzuela in the World Baseball Classic.

  • Aaron Cunningham has reached safely via hit or walk in all four games he has played this spring. He also owns a three-game hitting streak (3-for-5).

  • Jurickson Profar leads MLB with five walks.

  • The Rangers and Los Angeles Angels enter Thursday as the only winless teams in the majors this spring.

  • Country music legend Charley Pride performed a few songs for players, staff and management in the Rangers clubhouse. this morning. Pride, who had 39 songs reach No. 11 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts during his career, became a Rangers minority owner in 2010.

  • The Rangers announced today that individual tickets for all 2013 home games will go on sale Saturday at 9 a.m.