Berkman gets first spring 1B start

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Lance Berkman will make his first start of the spring at first base when the Texas Rangers host the Kansas City Royals tonight at Surprise Stadium.

Berkman has appeared in 12 spring games, all as a designated hitter. He has played first and outfield for much of his career. However, Texas added the 13-year veteran to primarily serve as DH, with occasional time at first base.

"He'll get more games out there, a number I can't give you right now," manager Ron Washington said. "I'll play him out there today, see how he recovers tomorrow, give him a couple of days and then maybe put him out there again."

Berkman's ability to play the field could make him especially valuable this season. He could see time at first to give another player a rest against American League opponents.

Berkman also could see time in the field in National League ballparks, where the designated hitter isn't used. (That could be often, as MLB teams will play interleague games throughout the season for the first time.) If not, he could still be a valuable weapon.

"I would say I have one heck of a pinch hitter on the bench," Washington said.

The manager said Berkman is not expected to see time in the outfield, but that decision is subject to change if circumstances during the season dictate an adjustment.

Other team notes:

--Tonight's game can be seen live on TXA21.

--Outfielder Leonys Martin left camp to return to Miami, where he has been granted his U.S. citizenship.

--LHP Derek Holland, who is in camp after playing for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, is scheduled to pitch for AAA Round Rock in a game against San Diego at the Peoria Sports Complex.

--Closer Joe Nathan is slated to pitch in a minor league game tomorrow, as well.

--Elvis Andrus owns a nine-game hitting streak, batting .400 (10-25) in that span.

--Jeff Baker is second in the majors with a .488 batting average.

--David Murphy is batting .393 in his last 10 games to raise his overall spring batting average from .200 to .326.

--Today's game in Surprise marks the first of four night games Texas will play this spring. The other Arizona night game is Thursday in Tempe against the Los Angeles Angels. The Rangers also will play under the lights in Texas on March 28 versus Mexico City at Arlington and March 29 versus San Diego at San Antonio.

--Tonight's game marks the fourth and final time Texas will play the Kansas City Royals this spring. The teams played three straight to open the 2013 Cactus League season from Feb. 22 to 24, with the Rangers going 0-2-1 in those contests.

--Tonight's WBC semifinal matchup in San Francisco between the Dominican Republic and the Netherlands will feature three Rangers: Nelson Cruz and Leury Garcia (Dominican Republic) and Jurickson Profar (Netherlands). The winner will face Puerto Rico in the finals.

--Kansas City owns the best spring record in the major leagues at 17-4-1.