Focus is on departed Hamilton, Young for Rangers

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

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, the Rangers’ 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 middle of 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. ”I know he’s going to

do great things for the Angels, but hopefully all the good things

he does for them falls just a game or so short of us.”

The Rangers still have a lot of power in the lineup. Beltre hit

.321 with 36 homers and 102 RBIs last season, and Nelson Cruz had

24 homers and 90 RBIs.

”I believe we’re still good,” Beltre said. ”Of course, we

lost Josh, Michael and Napoli. Those are big bats in the lineup,

but we’re still a solid team. (People say) because we don’t have

Josh, Michael and Napoli that our season is over. It’s not. I still

believe that this is a really good team and it’s going to really

compete and look forward to win the West.”

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.

”You don’t try to replace a guy like that, especially in the

clubhouse,” Nathan said. ”He meant to us so much off the field

and in the clubhouse.”

Second baseman Ian Kinsler, who is in his eighth year with the

Rangers, could help fill the leadership void.

”I don’t think determining who our leader is or the face of the

franchise or anything like that is going to win us games,” Kinsler

said. ”I think it’s a little blown out of proportion. He was

obviously one of our leaders. We’re going to miss that.

”Every year guys are leaving a team. New guys are coming. This

year it just happened to be Michael Young. We’re going to have to

move on from that.”

Texas lost in the World Series in 2010 and 2011, then fell apart

at the end of last season. It dropped seven of its final nine

games, including a season-ending sweep at Oakland that gave the

Athletics the AL West title. Then the Rangers lost the wild-card

playoff game against Baltimore.

The goal is to get back to the World Series and win it.

”You can never replace the Josh Hamiltons and the Michael

Youngs in what they brought,” Washington said. ”But the game of

baseball doesn’t stop. It continues to move forward. Boston lost

Roger Clemens and won the World Series. The Yankees lost Reggie

Jackson and still won the World Series.

”The Texas Rangers lost a few people. We haven’t won a World

Series, but we certainly expect to. We didn’t finish last season

the way we wanted to. We didn’t meet the expectations we set out to

meet. But the thing about baseball is when you start out a new

year, everybody has a chance. And we have a chance.”