ARLINGTON, Texas - Way back in March, when the Texas Rangers were in first place and slated to win the World Series, manager Ron Washington explained the maturation/problem of center fielder Leonys Martin.
"Young, dumb, and ...(expletive deleted)," Washington said.
It is July 31, and the Rangers are in dead last in the division and in hot pursuit of the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 MLB draft, yet the same issue surrounding Martin remains. All of the ability is there, but the baseball IQ is still a problem. If Martin was a left fielder, where a team could hide some defensive defencies, you can live with a substandard defensive IQ. Martin in a center fielder, normally the best defensive player in an outfield with the most range who knows where everybody is at all times.
For example the Rangers' 12-11 loss against the New York Yankees on July 29. A fly ball was heading towards right center field when right fielder Alex Rios and Martin had poor communication; the two men slowed as each approached the ball, which bounced off Rios' glove and hit the ground. Rios was charged with the error.
Washington said he was in "Disbelief. It's something we talk about constantly."
Washington said he would not "bash Martin. It's about learning," he said. "All I want him to do is learn. He is the center fielder and he should know where everybody is. You just can't run blind."
Martin's problem is not tools or ability. He can cover the necessary ground for a center fielder at the Ballpark in Arlington. He has a strong arm to make every throw. His problem remains basic center fielder defensive principles.
Because the Rangers' season is gone, their main priority is developing players such as Martin and making sure these plays are in the past when 2015 begins.
A teacher such as Washington is the ideal manager for Martin because he will remain patient with him and drill the same message until the sun runs out of light. At some point, you would think Martin will get it.
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