Texas optimistic despite loss of stars
BY AP Wire Service
Sunday, February 17, 2013
2/17/13 at 6:53 AM
SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) - The Texas Rangers had a much different look when they held their first full-squad spring training workout on Saturday.
There was no sign of Josh Hamilton, and Michael Young was absent, too. Mike Napoli also was in a different camp, but the team's expectations remained the same.
Hamilton, the 2010 AL MVP, signed a $125 million, five-year contract with the Los Angeles Angels after hitting 43 homers with 128 RBIs for Texas last season. Young, Texas' career hits leader, was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies, and Napoli signed with the Boston Red Sox.
The loss of Hamilton leaves a giant hole in the lineup.
"You can't replace a player as good as Josh," left fielder David Murphy said. "There are only a few players like him in the game of baseball. That being said, we're a solid lineup one-through-nine.
"We may not have the guy with Josh's presence in our lineup, but our lineup is structured in a different way. You don't always need that superstar, a standout guy to win. Adrian Beltre is the best third baseman in the game. He's definitely our superstar. Lance Berkman has been there, he's done it. If he's healthy, he's going to have a great season for us."
Hamilton had at least 25 homers and 94 RBIs in four of his five seasons with Texas.
"He's obviously a guy that can put a team on his back when he needs to," Rangers closer Joe Nathan said.
The Rangers still have a lot of power. Beltre hit .321 with 36 homers and 102 RBIs last season, and Nelson Cruz had 24 homers and 90 RBIs.
Manager Ron Washington said the three candidates to replace Hamilton in center are Craig Gentry, Leonys Martin and Julio Borbon, who have combined for nine career home runs.
Young's leadership will be missed as much as his bat. Young, a career .301 hitter, was the de-facto team captain for several years.
Second baseman Ian Kinsler, who is in his eighth year with the Rangers, could help fill the leadership void.