Texas Rangers

Leonys Martin anointed as Rangers’ leadoff man

Center fielder Leonys Martin has been tabbed as the Texas Rangers’ leadoff hitter. He batted .295 with a .340 on-base percentage over the final 21 games of 2014.
Center fielder Leonys Martin has been tabbed as the Texas Rangers’ leadoff hitter. He batted .295 with a .340 on-base percentage over the final 21 games of 2014. Star-Telegram

The first piece of the Texas Rangers’ 2015 lineup fell into place Saturday, when manager Jeff Banister announced that center fielder Leonys Martin will be the leadoff hitter.

Martin finished 2014 atop the lineup and flourished there. He batted .295 with a .340 on-base percentage over the final 21 games, stealing eight bases and getting caught just twice.

Banister likes Martin’s speed and power, and plans to bat him first against right-handers and left-handers. The two talked of the leadoff plans during the first week of Cactus League games.

“In my mind, that’s the direction I’d like to go,” Banister said. “I’d like him to lock down that leadoff spot and be the catalyst for our offense.”

Banister has seen quality at-bats from the left-handed-hitting Martin, and has encouraged him to use his ability to bunt and to try to control the strike zone better against lefties.

The rest of the lineup isn’t certain, though a glimpse at the lineup Banister had posted for Sunday’s game could be a hint of what the Rangers’ order will look like April 6 in the season opener.

After Martin, the Rangers will have Elvis Andrus, Shin-Soo Choo, Adrian Beltre, Prince Fielder and Mitch Moreland.

“I am ready for that,” Martin said. “I put my mind in the off-season into the opportunity. You’ve got to try to get on base and try to get a run any way you can.”

Holland gets going

Left-hander Derek Holland needed only 12 pitches Saturday in a perfect inning during a B game against the Padres in his first game action of the spring after dealing with shoulder soreness.

Holland induced a pop-up and a groundout from two minor-leaguers before getting Carlos Quentin to fly out. Of the fastballs Holland threw, he sat at 94 mph.

“I would have loved to go longer, but I’ve got to do what they say,” Holland said. “Overall I’m happy with everything. I used all my pitches. I’m very satisfied.”

Holland has been ruled out for the April 6 season opener but could start the April 10 home opener. He said that four weeks is plenty of time to get his pitch count built up to where he could go nine innings.

“I’ve got to prepare for what they tell me,” Holland said. “That’s enough to get ready. It’s not going to take me that long.”

DeShields delayed

Delino DeShields Jr. could miss a few days after feeling tightness in his right hamstring Friday while legging out a double, but that shouldn’t prevent the Rangers from getting a full read on the outfielder.

“I feel like I could play today,” DeShields said. “It didn’t get any worse overnight, so that’s a good thing.”

DeShields is in a unique spot as a Rule 5 pick. If he makes the team, he must stay on the 25-man roster all season. If he doesn’t, to keep him the Rangers either have to offer him back to Houston and the Astros decline to take him back, or a trade can be worked out.

He can’t be optioned or designated for assignment. If he’s waived, he must clear waivers and then be offered back to the Astros.

DeShields can go on the disabled list, but he must be active during the season for 90 days.

Banister has been impressed by DeShields’ speed and by the quality of his at-bats. DeShields also had a bunt hit Friday.

“It was fun to see the speed come into play,” Banister said. “Those are the things all the scouts talked about.”

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @JeffWilson_FWST

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