As of now, Leonys Martin is leadoff hitter

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington acknowledged that there's a long way between now and the start of spring training, but if the club doesn't go out and sign a leadoff hitter, Leonys Martin is the man.

Washington believes Martin will continue to grow as a player and, with his speed and ability to get on base, should be given the chance to lead off.

"We pushed him up there a little bit last year and I think he's a little bit more mature and more experienced," Washington said. "I think we can try and talk to him and mold him into what we would like to see in a leadoff hitter. Last year we had to let him go and see what he could do."

Washington likes Elvis Andrus in the 2-hole and doesn't want to alter that. He likes having Andrus' speed at the top of the lineup, but also his ability to move runners over.

Martin was the leadoff hitter for 31 games last year and had just a .301 on-base percentage, but Washington likes Martin's progress and believes he'll improve. Martin, who turns 26 before the season begins, hit .260 with eight homers and 48 RBIs last year, his first full season in the big leagues. He had 36 stolen bases.