Texas Rangers: Four position battles to watch this spring

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NEW YORK, NY - MAY 08: Hunter Pence #8 of the San Francisco Giants hits a two run home run in the first inning against the New York Mets on May 8, 2017 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 08: Hunter Pence #8 of the San Francisco Giants hits a two run home run in the first inning against the New York Mets on May 8, 2017 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /
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Texas Rangers
SEATTLE, WA – MAY 16: Delino DeShields #3 of the Texas Rangers hits a single to drive in Isiah Kiner-Falefa #9 to take the lead over the Seattle Mariners in the eighth inning at Safeco Field on May 16, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images) /

Delino DeShields vs. The Field

DeShields knows the situation. He feels he’s the front-runner, but he understands the center field position is up for grabs.

His 2018 season was a huge drop-off from his 2017 season. DeShields’ batting average dropped 53 points, his OBP 37 points and his slugging 86 points. He also swiped nine fewer bags.

Last year was rough, though he now has a clean slate. All the 26-year-old needs is a solid spring to assure his opening day placement in the vast greens of center field. Still, an opening day nod doesn’t mean his spot is secure. Any hint of his 2018 struggles and the Texas Rangers may activate an alternative plan.

Carlos Tocci is the only player directly competing with DeShields. Tocci is a center fielder by trade. He is on par with DeShields defensively, but he hasn’t shown much on offense in his brief big league career. Tocci offers little power and he had a difficult time reaching base in 2017. He was also 0-for-3 in stolen base attempts.

The only other guy that could find himself in center this year is Joey Gallo. Well, he’ll definitely earn some starts there, but the question is how many?

Texas prefers Gallo be in left field. Only extenuating circumstances would force management’s hand to play him in center field more than maybe 25 times this season. A poor start from DeShields might just do it.

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