Choice, but unsaid, comparison for former UTA star in first Rangers spring training

03/16/2014 8:23 PM

03/16/2014 8:49 PM

Rangers outfielder Michael Choice reminds manager of a former teammate. But out of deference to baseball superstitions or out of fairness to Choice, he’s not saying who.

A good bet, however, is Washington’s former Twins teammate Kirby Puckett. Choice not only shares a similar stocky build as the Hall-of-Fame outfielder, but so far this spring training he’s been hitting like the lifetime .318 hitter as well.

Washington is far from determining whether Choice, a former UT Arlington star and Mansfield Timberview graduate, has cemented a spot on the Rangers’ opening day roster, much less crowning him as Puckett’s heir apparent.

“I can’t compare him to anybody who’s been successful because he hasn’t been successful,” Washington said, quickly dismissing Choice’s .389 batting average, .694 slugging percentage and team-high 14 hits in 17 spring training games. “Now if, for some reason, he makes this team and he has a very successful year and does it again and again and again and you come back and ask I have somebody in mind. But he’s got to do it first.”

Choice, was traded to Texas from Oakland in December, has spent most of the past four seasons in the minors. He’s hoping to make the Rangers’ opening day roster as a starting or fourth outfielder.

“I had no expectations for Michael because I had never seen Michael play,” Washington said. “So I was just going to watch and as we move along form my own opinion. So far, so good.”

Washington understands the interest in a local kid coming back home to play and so far he’s been cautiously impressed.

“Let’s let it continue to play out,” he said. “Spring training doesn’t make a big-league career. I know a lot of people flying high in April. You can’t find ‘em in May, June, July, August or September.”

Stefan Stevenson, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @StevensonFWST

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