Delino DeShields out 4-6 weeks, so the Rangers need a Plan B in center field
DeShields broke his hamate bone with a swing in the eighth inning on Friday
The Rangers grabbed their first win of the season on Friday night, but it came at a cost. Leadoff man and center fielder Delino DeShields has been placed on the disabled list due to an injury he suffered during the game. It's a broken hamate bone in DeShields's left hand that will require surgery and sideline him for four-to-six weeks, per the club. It's always possible it lingers longer, too.
Two games into the season, that's a pretty rough blow.
DeShields established himself as a quality leadoff man last season, getting on base at a .347 clip and stealing 29 bases in 37 tries. He also played a very good center field, scoring a plus-six in defensive runs saved in only 383 innings.
The Rangers will now shuffle the roster and lineup. Let's take a look.
Elvis Andrus is slotted as the leadoff hitter on Saturday, so that answers the question of who the replacement is. Andrus had been hitting third. Adrian Beltre now moves up to the three-hole with Nomar Mazara fourth.
Defensively, the Rangers are going with Carlos Tocci in center on Saturday with Drew Robinson in left. Tocci will be making his MLB debut. The Rule 5 pick mostly played center in the minors, so he's fine out there on defense, but he's far from a sure thing with the bat, a career .266/.317/.337 hitter in the minors with just 17 games of experience above Double-A.
Robinson has some experience in center as a pro, but it's extremely limited and there are also concerns about his bat (.224/.314/.439 as a rookie last season).
Jurickson Profar could see an uptick in playing time in left field with Tocci and Robinson being used more in center as well.
From there, I can't help but wander in my mind to Willie Calhoun. The prospect was ranked No. 36 by Baseball America this spring and was picked by some (including myself) to win AL Rookie of the Year. He hit .300/.355/.572 with 27 doubles, six triples and 31 homers in 128 games in Triple-A last year. He did get a cup of coffee in The Show late last season, hitting only .265/.324/.353 with one homer in 34 at-bats, but that's a small sample and his first foray to the bigs.
Calhoun needs to play a corner outfield spot, but I just wonder if the DeShields injury expedites Calhoun's ticket back to the majors with a Tocci/Robinson platoon (Tocci swings right-handed while Robinson is left) settling in center until DeShields is all the way back.
Needless to say, the DeShields injury has a pretty significant ripple effect with the Rangers' roster, lineup and defensive alignment.
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