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February 05, 2013

Nelson Cruz is Rangers' Plan A in right field, but others being considered

Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said that Nelson Cruz is the club's everyday right fielder entering spring training, but he acknowledged that others will see time in the outfield this spring in case Cruz is suspended for performance-enhancing drugs.

That includes Jurickson Profar and Mike Olt.

But Daniels stressed that the thought of testing the top prospects, among others, in right field isn't strictly related to the Cruz situation. Daniels said that he wants the team to be versitile in case of injuries, and the club wants to instill in its young players is to be ready for anything if they want to be on the major-league roster.

"Down in the Dominican [last week] we saw some of these guys, and our message to them was, 'Whatever your position was in the minor leagues, you're a baseball player now,' " Daniels said. " 'Whether you're a middle infielder, you may play on the corner, you may play some outfield. Just be prepared.' "

When asked if Profar, who worked out in the Dominican for club officials, should be prepared to play in the outfield this spring, Daniels responded, "I think so. Why not?

"Our stance with Jurickson is, and what we've communicated to him is, if he demonstrates that he's one of the best 25 and maybe one of the best nine and we're comfortable that there's enough of an opportunity for him to play and make and impact for the team and also continue in his progress, we're going to be open-minded to that.

"I see him long-term as a shortstop or a middle infielder with high ability there, but he may take some balls out there. We'll see what happens."

Daniels also said that Profar can make the Opening Day roster without a regular spot in the lineup. Daniels, though, doesn't want Profar to just sit on the bench and possibly take a step backward.

Olt and Mitch Moreland remain the leading candidates for time in right field should Cruz be slapped with a suspension after he was linked to a Miami anti-aging clinic that reportedly distributed banned substances to six major-leaguers.

-- Jeff Wilson

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