Spring training starts in four days and the Rangers outfield is projected to be shuffled around since last season, although the core of the players remain. Josh Hamilton will move to left field, Julio Borbon will move to center with Nelson Cruz remaining in right field. It appears that David Murphy will become the fourth outfielder coming off the bench.
Josh Hamilton was the success story in 2008, he had just debuted in MLB in 2007 after being drafted in 2001 and being out of baseball for three years for drug addiction and injuries. He started off 2008 on fire and was rewarded with a trip to the All-star game and participated in the Home Run Derby setting the record for the most home runs hit in the first round.
Last season was not as good for Hamilton, after spending two stints on the disabled list due to crashing into the outfield wall twice while chasing down fly balls. It was later discovered in Philadelphia that he had an abdominal tear and had surgery the next day. He was still voted in as an All-star and batted .268 with ten home runs. Hopefully the move to left field will keep him from crashing into wall so he can stay healthy and produce numbers similar to his 2008 form.
In center field the Rangers have Julio Borbon who barely had enough at-bats last year to not be considered a rookie this year. In 46 games Borbon hit .312 with 49 hits 15 walks and 4 home runs. These are not bad stats at all for a rookie who is just getting adjusted to the Majors, so hopefully he can take this smaller sample and produce these numbers throughout the entire 2010 season.
The only outfield retaining his position from 2009 is Nelson Cruz in Right Field. Nelson Cruz was a replacement all-star in 2009. Cruz appeared in 128 games in 2009 batting .260 with 120 hits, with both of these being personal highs. Cruz should be able to improve his batting average in 2010 and be more productive at the plate.
David Murhpy came to the Rangers in 2007 as part of group exchanged for Eric Gagne. He made his debut for the Rangers in 2007. Interestingly enough he appeared in 128 games in 2009 the same as Nelson Cruz in 2009. His batting average was a little bit higher at .269 although he had four less hits with a 116 hits for the season.
The Rangers dismissed hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo after the 2009 season after he spent 15 years in the position. The Rangers then hired Clint Hurdle who spent 7 previous seasons as the manager of the Colorado Rockies leading them to the world series in 2007 only to be swept by Boston in 4 games. Before he was the manager of the Rockies he was their hitting coach for 5 seasons. The change of the hitting coach should spark the Rangers offense to make them more dynamic in 2010.