Duran wants to do all he can
Rangers player trying to become as versatile as possible
ARLINGTON -- German Duran wants to do some catching this winter.He probably won't do it in a game, but he does want to at least put on the catching gear and see what it's like behind the mask. "You never know," Duran said. "One day I might be needed to be the third catcher." He is willing to do that and more. Duran started at shortstop for Michael Young on Saturday, he has played left field in Fenway Park and he has taken throws at first base in Spring Training. His best position is second base, but he believes he could play regularly at third base in the big leagues. Duran hasn't played center field, but he said, "I can run a little bit and track the ball down. I just don't know how good my routes would be." Duran understands right now his best chance of being at the Major League level is as a utility player, and he is willing to do anything to help his chances. He is going to play winter ball for Hermosillo in the Mexican League, and his aim is to play every position possible. He's not worried about being labeled as a utility player. "I can't look at it that way as long as I'm in the big leagues and contributing," Duran said before the Rangers' game with the Angels on Saturday. "I don't know where I'll be five, six years from now, but right now, I just want to have a job for the next few years. After that, who knows what will happen." Duran went into Saturday's game hitting .225 with three home runs and 14 RBIs in 53 games and 120 at-bats at the Major League level. He hit .260 in 21 games at Triple-A Oklahoma while missing five weeks in July and August with a sprained right thumb. He didn't quite have the same year as in his breakout season of 2007, when he hit .300 with 22 homers and 84 RBIs at Double-A Frisco. The Rangers were planning to use him for a full season at Triple-A, but early season injuries to Marlon Byrd and Hank Blalock forced Duran into a utility role at the big league level for much of the first half. Texas manager Ron Washington said the experience should help Duran adjust to a utility role next season. "He has a better understanding of what it's all about," Washington said. "In my opinion, if we don't have to use him in that role, I'd like for him to go somewhere and play every day. But if for some reason we need him, he'll be better because of the experience. It's a tough job for a young kid, but he's tough enough to handle it. It's not an easy job." The other two candidates for the utility role are Ramon Vazquez and Joaquin Arias. Vazquez has done an excellent job the past two years, but he is a free agent. Arias has been the Rangers' regular second baseman while Ian Kinsler has been out, but his lack of arm strength due to a shoulder injury keeps him from playing shortstop or third base. Washington made it clear Arias needs to be able to play on the left side of the infield to be a utility player. Duran offers more versatility, particularly since he can play the outfield. That's crucial when the Rangers' need for seven relievers leaves them with a limited four-man bench. In that regard, Duran is ideal. "I'm fine as long as I'm here and playing -- I can't complain," Duran said. "I can't complain as long as I'm having fun. The day I start complaining is when I'm not having fun, and that won't be for a long, long time."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.