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February 25, 2012

Saturday morning in Surprise: Center field job is open

The talk around the Texas Rangers spring training complex today is centered on the center field position. Manager Ron Washington said the job is "open."

Craig Gentry, Julio Borbon and Leonys Martin are the three leading candidates, although Josh Hamilton reported to camp 15 pounds lighter and could get the job if nobody emerges from the group.

Washington would prefer to play Hamilton in leftfield, but will go with whatever puts the team in the best position to win.

Last year, the Rangers carried two center fielders with Gentry and Endy Chavez, starting Gentry against left-handers and Chavez against right-handers. Washington wasn't ready to say if the team would prefer to carry just one center fielder this season.

Two other players will also get looks for the center field job -- Kyle Hudson and Engel Beltre -- but the spot will likely go to Gentry, Borbon or Martin.

Other notable items from this morning:

* Along with center field, the utility infielder position is up for grabs. Luis Hernandez, Greg Miclat, Yangervis Solarte and Alberto Gonzalez are all candidates for the position. Washington said the No. 1 priority for the utility infielder is to "catch the ball." They must be able to play shortstop, and also do execute the fundamental things offensively, such as laying down a bunt.

* Washington would prefer to split up left-handed starters Derek Holland and Matt Harrison in the rotation. It's too early for him to set his rotation, but said they likely won't pitch back-to-back days.

* Every player has reported to camp, and will be on hand for Sunday's first full workout.

-- Drew Davison

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