ARLINGTON, Texas — Ian Kinsler, now the longest-tenured member of the Texas Rangers with the recent trade of Michael Young, said Tuesday he’s willing to switch positions if it helps the club in 2013.
Kinsler, who has been in the team’s starting second baseman since 2006, said he would move to first base if that’s where the club feels like he’s needed.
“My feeling is whatever I need to help this team win,” said Kinsler, who was at Rangers Ballpark on Tuesday as part of the Cowboys Santa Toy Drive event.
“Honestly, if they believe putting me at first base is going to field a better team I’m all for it. Bottom line is, I signed a long-term extension (in April) to win a championship. If they think me at first is going to help us win a championship, I’m all for it.”
Kinsler said general manager Jon Daniels hasn’t told him that the plan is for Kinsler to move to first, but they wanted to hear his thoughts on a possible position switch. He said first base is the only other position that’s been mentioned.
Moving players around the infield is nothing new for the Rangers. Young moved from second base to shortstop to third base to utility during his 12-year Texas tenure before he was traded to Philadelphia on Sunday.
Kinsler said he thinks he may have played first base a couple of times as a teenager. He doesn’t think the possible transition, which would create an infield spot for Jurickson Profar at second base, is that big of a deal.
“That’s what spring training is for,” Kinsler said. “If it was a situation where I was moving to the outfield, I’d have to know a little earlier because I’d have to strengthen my arm differently and I’d have to be in a little better condition as far as long-distance running. Those are really the only two differences. As far as first base, I’m still going to train the same way as far as explosiveness and trying to get my quickness back and all that kind of stuff. It can be hashed out in spring training.”
Wherever he’s playing in 2013, Kinsler knows Young will no longer be a teammate. He said he didn’t want to see Young leave, but is happy that his friend is getting an opportunity to play every day.
Losing Young leaves a void in the clubhouse, but Kinsler thinks the idea of having a clubhouse leader is overrated.
“The goal of the team is not who the leader is,” he said. “The goal of the team is to win and get back to the exciting style of baseball we had in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Last year it just felt like there wasn’t that excitement, that energy. Regardless of who the leader is or who you guys want to say the leader is, it’s about getting the energy back in our ball club. I’m going to do my best to provide that.”
Kinsler doesn’t think he did that in 2012. He hit .256 and his on-base percentage was .326, the lowest mark he’s had in the majors. His stolen base total also dropped from 30 in 2011 to 21 last season.
His right ankle may have contributed to the decline. Kinsler had a procedure on the ankle last offseason. He felt fine immediately after the procedure but the problem got worse during the season. At one point, there was talk of having surgery on the ankle.
He said it started feeling better around July and is now at 100 percent.
Maybe that will be good enough for him to rebound.
“It obviously wasn’t a year up to my standard,” he said.” I want to provide more energy for this club think I need to show more emotion. I think our team as a whole needs to show more emotion, more energy. That’s obviously one of my responsibilities as a player. It’s what I’m good at so I need to get back to that.”