Craig Gentry pushing for everyday job in center field

Posted Thursday, Mar. 14, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
A
More information Friday’s game vs. Giants, 3:05 p.m., Scottsdale Stadium, Scottsdale. TV: KTXA/21. Radio: None. Webcast: None. Rangers probable pitchers: RHP Derek Lowe, LHP Joe Ortiz, RHP Wilmer Font, RHP Cory Burns, LHP Neal Cotts, RHP Johan Yan, LHP Michael Kirkman. Giants probable pitchers: RHP Matt Cain, RHP Sergio Romo, RHP George Kontos, LHP Edwin Escobar. Gentry with the Rangers Craig Gentry made his big-league debut with the Rangers in 2009. Here’s a look at his stats with the team.
YearGmsABAvg.RBIsOB pct.SB
20091117.1181.2110
20102033.2123.2291
201164133.27113.34718
2012121240.30426.36713

Have more to add? News tip? Tell us

He batted .304, played great defense and provided elite speed on the base paths.

It’s safe to say Craig Gentry arrived last season, showing he belonged in the big leagues. Now, the question is whether Gentry is simply a platoon outfielder who can provide speed off the bench or is an everyday player.

And, at 29, Gentry is getting a chance to prove he can be the everyday center fielder, but he might be the underdog despite his solid season.

The Texas Rangers have more invested in Gentry’s main competition, Leonys Martin, who signed a five-year, $15.6 million contract May 4, 2011. And some within the Rangers’ organization question whether Gentry would be exposed offensively in an everyday role.

Does Gentry agree with the underdog label for the everyday job?

“That’s something out of my control, I can’t worry about stuff like that,” Gentry said. “I feel good about my spring. I feel I had a really good year last year, so I’m going to try and keep building on that. I’ve got to worry about myself.”

So far, Gentry and Martin are both enjoying successful springs. A favorite has yet to emerge, though.

Gentry is batting .300, has struck out only twice in 30 at-bats and is a perfect 5-for-5 on stolen base attempts. He is also the more polished defender and astute base runner of the two.

Martin, though, has been even more impressive at the plate, batting .400 with four extra-base hits and seven RBIs.

“No one has taken the lead,” manager Ron Washington said. “They’re all doing well, still competing.”

The likely scenario, if Gentry and Martin stay at their pace, is to go with a platoon in center field. Gentry, a right-handed batter, would start against left-handed pitchers, while Martin, a left-handed batter, would start against right-handers.

But Gentry is pushing hard for that coveted everyday job. He is coming off his best season and wants to show he can handle it.

“The more I got to play last year, the better I did,” Gentry said. “If I can get a chance to get in there and get repetition offensively, then I definitely feel good about my chances of doing well.

“I worked my tail off to get to where I am and I feel like over the past couple of years I have done a good job of establishing myself here.”

Gentry has also established himself as a mini-celebrity in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, whether he meant to or not. A segment of Rangers fans have dubbed him “Kitten Face,” with T-shirts that Gentry wears occasionally.

Gentry doesn’t know how that nickname originated but believes his play on the field has gotten him more recognition from fans.

“I really don’t know how I am viewed because I’m not on Twitter or Facebook, but fans appreciate players who work hard and play the game the right way,” Gentry said. “That’s how I approach it every day. I’m going to run every ball out and I’m going to hustle and give everything I have.”

Gentry had a solid season last year by most standards, especially with a high average (.304) but had only 26 RBIs in 240 at-bats. But Gentry has spent the off-season and spring working on driving the ball more.

And he has shown glimpses of more power this spring.

Gentry is tied for the team-lead with two home runs and has five RBIs in 30 at-bats. The Rangers and Gentry know he won’t be a 25-homer threat, but he does have potential to connect every now and then.

“We’re not asking him to hit home runs, but we’re all in the business of maximizing everybody’s talent,” hitting coach Dave Magadan said. “It’s just another weapon he has, so why not try to expose it? If we can pop a few balls out of the park when somebody makes a mistake, that’s great.”

Drew Davison, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @drewdavison

Looking for comments?

We welcome your comments on this story, but please be civil. Do not use profanity, hate speech, threats, personal abuse or any device to draw undue attention. Our policy requires those wishing to post here to use their real identity.

Our commenting policy | Facebook commenting FAQ | Why Facebook?





Wednesday, October 22Full Scoreboard
San Francisco2Final | Box
Kansas City «7
110th World Series, Game Two. Series tied, 1-1.
Full Scoreboard
Wednesday, October 22Full Scoreboard
Houston «90Final | Box
Orlando89
Brooklyn86Final | Box
Boston «100
Washington100Final | Box
New York «103
Cleveland92Final | Box
Memphis «96
Minnesota «110Final | Box
Milwaukee91
Atlanta «117Final | Box
San Antonio107
Portland86Final | Box
LA Lakers «94
Phoenix713rd Qtr 5:17 | Box
LA Clippers71TV: ESPN
Full Scoreboard
Week 8Full Scoreboard
Thursday
San Diego 8:25 PM ET
Denver TV: CBS/NFL Network
Sunday
Detroit 9:30 AM ET
Atlanta TV: FOX
Seattle 1:00 PM ET
Carolina TV: CBS
Baltimore 1:00 PM ET
Cincinnati TV: CBS
Miami 1:00 PM ET
Jacksonville TV: CBS
St. Louis 1:00 PM ET
Kansas City TV: FOX
Chicago 1:00 PM ET
New England TV: FOX
Buffalo 1:00 PM ET
NY Jets TV: CBS
Minnesota 1:00 PM ET
Tampa Bay TV: FOX
Houston 1:00 PM ET
Tennessee TV: CBS
Philadelphia 4:05 PM ET
Arizona TV: FOX
Oakland 4:25 PM ET
Cleveland TV: CBS
Indianapolis 4:25 PM ET
Pittsburgh TV: CBS
Green Bay 8:30 PM ET
New Orleans TV: NBC
Monday
Washington 8:30 PM ET
Dallas TV: ESPN
Full Scoreboard
Wednesday, October 22Full Scoreboard
Toronto0Postponed | Box
Ottawa0
Philadelphia «5Final | Box
Pittsburgh3
Washington2Final | Box
Edmonton «3
Buffalo03rd Prd | Box
Anaheim2TV: MSG-BUF, FSN-PT
Full Scoreboard