The curious case of Jurickson Profar
Infielder Jurickson Profar is turning into the Rangers version of the international man of mystery. It’s getting harder and harder to figure out what’s going on with him.
At one point he was planning to play in the World Baseball Classic. Then he decided against it. Now he is undecided and will make a final decision after he arrives in camp.
Then there is the matter of playing the outfield.
Last week general manager Jon Daniels said Profar might end up playing some outfield this spring as a way to increase his versatility and chances of making the team. But manager Ron Washington isn’t sure about that.
“No,” Washington said Monday. “He’s going to come in and work on the infield. I have no intentions on him playing the outfield.”
Remember in the off-season the Rangers considered moving Ian Kinsler to first base so Profar could start at second. That plan also got scuttled fairly quickly.
Profar is 19 and he has never played above Double except for the nine games and 17 at-bats he had with the Rangers last season. One might think that Profar would profit from playing in Triple A Round Rock for at least part of the season and that may happen.
But there is still great angst among the Rangers about what happened at the end of last season when their position players appeared to run out of gas. Washington admitted he might have played his best players too much down the stretch and run them into the ground at the end.
So the potential big thing here in camp is the need for a better bench, which will still consist of four players because the Rangers insistence on a five-man rotation and a seven-man bullpen. One of those four will be a backup catcher.
So that leaves three spots on the bench and the Rangers are talking about increasing the versatility of their young players by having them play multiple positions. That means Mike Olt could play first, third and the outfield while Leury Garcia, another talented young infielder, could play some center field.
Profar? He could play the infield. He could play the outfield. The Rangers are ruling out having him catch. He probably won’t pitch either but he was the star pitcher on those great Curacao Little League teams that went to Williamsport a few years ago.
A lot of things to sort out here in the desert. One day Roman Mendez said he’s ready to pitch off a mound and the next day the Rangers said he is still three weeks away from even throwing long toss. His season ended last year with a fracture in his right elbow.
Mendez doesn’t appear to be a candidate to make the Opening Day roster. Profar is a candidate, it’s just unclear right now in what capacity. Maybe he can play the outfield in the World Baseball Classic for the team from the Netherlands.