ARLINGTON – If the Texas Rangers feel their best chance of winning a championship is to have Ian Kinsler at first base, the three-time All-Star second baseman is open to it.
Kinsler and general manager Jon Daniels have discussed the possibility, although no final decision has been made yet.
“My feeling is whatever I need to help this team win,” said Kinsler, speaking at a Cowboy Santas Toy Drive event at Rangers Ballpark on Tuesday afternoon.
“I signed a long-term extension [last April] to win a championship here and if they think me at first is going to help win a championship, I’m all for it.”
Daniels believes Kinsler is one of the best second baseman in baseball, but the team has depth up the middle with top prospect Jurickson Profar expected to have a more substantial role next season.
“We’re just trying to figure out how many winning players we can get on the field together,” Daniels said. “Nothing’s set in stone, but we wanted Ian to have the chance to digest it and prepare if we ultimately go that way.”
The position change would also affect first baseman Mitch Moreland, who could get more at-bats either at designated hitter or off the bench filling in for Kinsler or possibly in right field.
Kinsler has been the Rangers’ everyday second baseman since 2006 and has never played first in his professional career. Kinsler said he might have played it once or twice as a 14-year-old, but isn’t worried about adjusting to a new position.
“That’s what spring training is for,” he said. “If it was a situation where I was moving to the outfield, I’d have to know a little earlier because I’d have to strengthen my arm differently and I’d have to be in a little better condition as far as long-distance running.”
A move to the outfield has not been discussed, Kinsler said.
Kinsler went on to reflect back on his 2012 season, admitting it wasn’t up to his standards. He finished with a .256 average and a career-low .326 on-base percentage. His stolen base total dropped from 30 to 21.
Kinsler said his right ankle, which he had surgery on last off-season, started bothering him during the season and didn’t improve until July, which might have factored into his struggles.
Kinsler is looking to bounce back next season, of course, but said he doesn’t need to become the “leader” of the team now that Michael Young is with the Phillies. Instead,
Kinsler would simply like to bring the energy back to the clubhouse.
“I want to be someone that’s not the same every day … an emotional player,” Kinsler said. “Last year, it just felt like there wasn’t that excitement, there wasn’t that energy.
“The goal of the team is not who the leader is, the goal of the team is to win and to get back to the style of baseball and the exciting style we had in 2009, 2010 and 2011.”
-- Drew Davison