Extra Bases: Leadoff carousel spins

ARLINGTON, Texas --With the loss of Mitch Moreland to an ankle injury that could have him out anywhere from three to four weeks to three months depending on which surgery he will have, Texas Rangers left fielder Shin-Soo Choo has found his way into the 3-hole in the batting order from his usual leadoff role.

With Choo batting .260, he's really the only fit for the job, Rangers manager Ron Washington said Monday.

Third baseman Adrian Beltre and his team-leading eight home runs will naturally keep his position in the cleanup spot, and Washington said he needs right fielder Alex Rios batting behind Beltre, which eliminates Rios' .335 batting average from 3-hole consideration.

"If I move Rios, I leave Beltre there," Washington said. "[Beltre is] already a bad-ball hitter, then he'd really be swinging at bad balls. At least he has a threat behind him and they have to pick their poison."

So Washington's ongoing dilemma will be filling the leadoff spot with whomever he sees as the best option from a pool of players that includes Daniel Robertson, Rougned Odor, Luis Sardinas and Michael Choice -- none of whom stands out as the everyday guy, Washington said.

"I'll just work it. That's all I can do," Washington said.

His tendency might be to stay away from Odor in the spot, because he, like center fielder Leonys Martin, is a "slasher" -- meaning he is prone to swing early in the count and not see pitches, Washington explained.

Choice has the most career experience batting leadoff, with 53 plate appearances yielding eight hits and seven walks. Robertson has 18 plate appearances with two hits and two walks, all in this, his rookie season. Sardinas and Odor have no career plate appearances at leadoff.

Shortstop Elvis Andrus has seen significant time in the leadoff spot in his career, with 820 plate appearances there, but Washington said he is not an option because Andrus has made it a point that it's not a spot in which he's comfortable hitting.

"It changes his approach," Washington said. "He thinks he has to take pitches and he finds himself down in the count all the time and it starts working on his mind."

So Washington will continue to move players in and out of the position until something fits.

"It will just be whatever option I think can do the job for me that day," Washington said.