The Texas Rangers have concerns about their left field situation and are looking at several alternatives to solidify the position.
The Dallas News reports that starting left fielder Josh Hamilton will open the season on the disabled list for the second straight year after having an injection of stem cells and platelet rich plasma into his left knee earlier this week.
As The Inquisitr previously reported, Hamilton showed up at spring training early with a sore knee and was still having issues with his surgically repaired knee and that there had been discomfort lingering in the knee for long stretches of the offseason.
Hamilton had two surgeries last season, the first surgery occurred on Sept. 11 to clean out the meniscus in the knee and he missed a week of action as a result. The 34-year-old then re-aggravated the injury when he ran into the wall making a catch in the final week of the season. He underwent surgery after the Rangers lost to Toronto in the divisional round of the playoffs.
Hamilton has seen his production decline since 2012 and struggled mightily last year. He hit.253 with eight home runs and 25 runs batted in while striking out 52 times in 50 games.
Texas signed two outfielders – Justin Ruggiano and James Jones — in what was a relatively quiet offseason after winning the AL West for the first time in four years. And just today the Rangers inked 31-year old Drew Stubbs to a minor league contract, according to the Star-Telegram.
Stubbs spent the end of last year with Rangers after being released by the Colorado Rockies. The right-handed hitter batted just.095 in 27 at-bats (two hits) for Texas but scored six runs and had three stolen bases.
“He’s a plus defender who can play all three outfield positions,” Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. “He can really run, and we think there is more in the bat than we saw last year. We’ll see where it goes.”
Stubbs joins Ruggiano, Jones, Patrick Kivlehan along with Ryan Rua – the team’s opening day starter a year – as options in left field. Top prospects Nomar Mazara and Lewis Brinson are also potential options though they are likely to start the season back in the minors. The Rangers’ No. 1 rated prospect Joey Gallo, who played 15 games in left field, is going to spend the majority of time at third during spring training and so far that plan hasn’t changed.
Daniels added that he may bring in another outfielder to battle for the position and have had talks with David Murphy and Austin Jackson’s agents.
Murphy played in 134 games last year, split between Los Angeles Angels and Cleveland, hitting.283 with 10 home runs along with 50 runs batted in. The 34-year-old played 53 games in left field, 42 games as a designated hitter and 37 in the other two outfield positions. He spent six-and-a-half years with the Rangers from 2007-through-2013.
Jackson could end up being too expensive for the Rangers as he turned down a one-year, $5-to-6 million deal, according to Bleacher Report.
Jackson spent time with the Seattle Mariners and Chicago Cubs last season. The 29-year-old hit.278 with eight home runs in 107 games, but struggled with the Cubs, batting just.236 (17-for-72) with one homer in 29 games. He then struggled in five postseason contests, going 0-for-8 with five strikeouts. The six-year pro did steal 17 bases, but was thrown out 10 times.
Jackson is primarily a center fielder so a move to left may not be what he desires and he is streaky at the plate. Jackson, who does have a considerable amount of experience in left, is a career.273 with hitter with 17 stolen bases.
Texas opens up spring training games on March 2 against the Kansas City Royals in Surprise, Arizona.
[Photo by Jae C. Hong/Associated Press]