Rangers' Gentry shows he has the right stuff

Posted Friday, Jul. 20, 2012  comments  Print Reprints
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ANAHEIM, Calif. -- No one ever doubted that Craig Gentry could run, especially after he stole 18 bases in 18 tries last season in limited action.

That speed and a strong right arm have helped him turn into a quality defensive outfielder.

The question on Gentry had been with his bat, and he's answering that rather emphatically this season.

Even against right-handed pitchers.

The right-handed-hitting Gentry has been used against almost all left-handed pitchers this season and has fared well against them. But on Friday, he was the Rangers' starting center fielder for a third consecutive game against a right-handed pitcher.

Gentry has been hot at the plate, part of the reason for his place in the lineup against Anaheim ace Jered Weaver. Gentry also is hitting over .300 this season against righties.

But as his breakthrough season continues to get better, he's content in his role as a platoon mate with David Murphy. That's good, because manager Ron Washington has no plans to make him an everyday player.

"I'm just going to go out there with the same approach I've had, and I'm not going to try to put too much pressure on myself," Gentry said before the opener of the three-game series between American League West's top teams.

"I don't try to go out and prove anything except to myself. Right now, I've gone out and done what I need to do, and gone out every day and given my best effort. That's all I can ask for."

Gentry doesn't have the numbers of a platoon player so far this season, except for the shortage of at-bats. Though his average against left-handers was an impressive .364 (28 for 77) entering Friday, he had more at-bats against right-handers with a .308 mark (24 for 78).

He won a game this season with an eighth-inning triple against All-Star closer Ryan Cook, and used his legs to spark a pair of rallies Tuesday at Oakland against Bartolo Colon.

Both pitchers are righties.

Gentry hasn't done anything drastic with his mechanics or his approach. Instead, his success has gone to his head, in a good way.

"Just confidence. That's so big when you're hitting," he said. "Maybe it's just the success I had last year and carrying it over to the beginning of this season."

Gentry has hit 21 points higher on the road (.346 to .325) and done plenty of damage in the division with a .420 average (21 for 50).

Washington, though, isn't ready to pencil Gentry into the lineup every day. Leonys Martin needs at-bats while he's in the majors, and the lineup flexibility that has afforded Gentry more playing time will disappear once Mitch Moreland returns at first base and Michael Young becomes the everyday designated hitter again.

"He's not going to shed his platoon label," Washington said. "He's doing a good job the way I'm using him. His contributions are well-appreciated."

Gentry isn't banging on the manager's door for more playing time, nor is he worried he will be tagged as a platoon player.

"I don't think about stuff like that, to be honest," said Gentry, who entered Friday on a three-game hitting streak (5-for-11, 2 RBIs). "Whether there's a righty or a lefty on the mound, I'm going up there with my approach and stick with it."

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @JeffWilson_FWST

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