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01/12/13 1:29 PM ET
Plan to move Kinsler from second put on the shelf
After Rangers consider shift, infielder will stay put, concentrate on defense
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- Rangers infielder Ian Kinsler plans to report to Spring Training on Feb. 10 and will bring a second baseman's glove him. He has no plans to purchase a first baseman's glove or even work at the position during the spring.
The Rangers, after some deliberation, are leaving Kinsler at second base, and that's the way he wants it.
"I'm excited about it," Kinsler said before his scheduled autograph session at FanFest on Saturday. "Second base is where I'm most comfortable, and it's a good feeling to have."
The Rangers approached Kinsler earlier in the offseason about the possibility of moving to first base. That would have allowed them to insert Jurickson Profar, their top Minor League prospect
as ranked by MLB.com, into the lineup at second. But it would have also knocked Mitch Moreland off first base.
Kinsler was initially open to the idea of moving. But the more he thought about it, the more reluctant he became about the idea. General manager Jon Daniels officially shelved the plan when the Rangers signed Lance Berkman to be their designated hitter. At the same time, the Rangers decided on keeping Moreland at first and Kinsler at second.
"That's where I'm most comfortable at," Kinsler said. "Ultimately it's not my decision. If they want me to play first base, what can I do? I could ask for a trade or be mad, what other options do I have?
"We had a lot of discussions and second base is the place I want to play. I feel I have a lot to give at second base and a lot of years to still be productive. We had a lot of discussions, and that's the way it is. I think initially it was more like getting wrapped up trying to do what's best for the team. In my opinion, being at second base is best for the team."
The goal now is to be a better defensive second baseman. Kinsler tied a career-high with 18 errors at second base in 2012 for a .970 fielding percentage that was the lowest of his career. His range factor of 4.19 chances per nine innings was also the lowest of his career. In 2009 he had a career high of a .985 fielding percentage with 11 errors in 144 games and a 5.01 range factor.
"You have good years defensively, you have bad years defensively and you have OK years defensively," Kinsler said. "Last year wasn't one of my best years. I'm still preparing to have the best year possible. You look on the back of guys baseball cards, everybody has a bad year. My goal is to rebound and have an MVP-caliber season like I'm expected to have. Regardless of the stats and all that other stuff, I can be a lot better than last year. I can get a lot better offensively, too."
Offensively Kinsler hit .256 last year with 105 runs scored, 19 home runs, 72 RBIs and 21 stolen bases. He had a .326 on-base percentage and a .423 slugging percentage.
The biggest thing is keeping his right ankle healthy. During the 2010 Spring Training, Kinsler rolled his right ankle and ended up starting the season on the disabled list. Since then, his ankle has never been back to full strength. Kinsler even contemplated having surgery during the middle of last season before the ankle showed significant improvement in the second half.
He is hoping that improvement will carry into the new season and not impact his speed and quickness.
"The last couple of years, it has been the whole speed thing and the whole quickness thing," Kinsler said. "It's something I need to continue to work on. Every year, I'm progressing and pushing more to get back to full strength."
The Rangers will get a full spring out of Kinsler. Shortstop Elvis Andrus is planning to play for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic, but Kinsler has not been approached by the United States.