Texas Rangers’ Outfield Shuffle Continues With Nelson Cruz Uncertainty
The Texas Rangers still don’t know what’s going to happen to right fielder Nelson Cruz, who has been accused of performance-enhancing drug (PED) use. The initial thought is he’ll receive a 50-game suspension to start the 2013 MLB season if found guilty of any wrongdoing, which means the Rangers will have to make adjustments to make up for Cruz’s glove and bat in the outfield and in the batter’s box. Fortunately, Texas is one of the best MLB teams at rotating players in the infield and outfield already, so the Rangers should be able to survive any long period of time without Cruz.
Newly-acquired journeyman Jeff Baker is technically the second man in right field on the Rangers’ depth chart, but he won’t start there on opening day if Cruz is out. With Josh Hamilton now gone, Leonys Martin takes over in center field with David Murphy in left. Those two players are tried and true, although Martin still hasn’t reached his full potential as a player. Behind them are Craig Gentry and Julio Borbon.
The best-case scenario would be to move Martin to right field and start the speedy Gentry in center. That puts Gentry’s bat in the lineup as well, which is way more reliable than Baker’s. Borbon can play some in right field as well, but moving Martin and keeping Gentry at his most natural position makes the most sense if Cruz is going to miss time. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that, but if Texas wants any real shot of a third World Series trip in four years, the Rangers need to start planning for the worst.
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