ARLINGTON, Texas – Jurickson Profar doesn’t have to worry about when or where he’ll play this year for the Texas Rangers.
The trade of second baseman Ian Kinsler in the offseason to Detroit took care of that.
Now all Profar has to do is perform up to the lofty expectations that have followed him since he was tabbed one of the top prospects in baseball. Profar, who is attending the team’s winter camp this week at Rangers Ballpark, sounds up for the task.
"I’m working hard every day to get better," said Profar, who turns 21 next month. "Last year was a good experience and I know what I have to do to succeed."
While Profar did get experience in 2013, he didn’t create the impact some expected, including himself. In 85 games, Profar hit just .234 with six home runs and 26 RBI. He bounced around, starting games at second base, shortstop, third base and left field.
Sporadic playing time and never knowing where you’re going to play could have led to the subpar numbers for Profar, but he didn’t see it that way.
"I’m not a guy that puts excuses," he said. "Last year was last year. I didn’t do a good job but I went back and worked hard for this year to be better."
One way Profar can do that is to hit left-handed pitching better. The switch-hitter batted just .188 on the season against lefties with just four extra-base hits in 96 at-bats. Profar said two years ago he put all his emphasis on hitting against right-handers. He said this offseason he’s worked on his hitting from both sides of the plate.
In 25 games in the Dominican Winter League for Licey, Profar hit .284 with seven extra-base hits in 88 at-bats. He also drew 24 walks and stole six bases.
"I went there to work on some things to work on some things I thought I had to work on," said Profar, who quit playing in the Dominican in November. "I had a good winter ball. Just being patient and look for my pitch to hit and stuff. And fielding too. Baserunning too."
Profar’s approach to playing in the winter was exactly what manager Ron Washington was hoping for.
"I am always encouraged when your young kids are in winter ball and they perform well," Washington said. "Pro has great aptitude and we’re certainly looking forward to him to try and be more consistent."
Replacing Kinsler at second base won’t be easy. Profar said he played nothing but shortstop in the winter but he did start 29 times at second for Texas last season. He doesn’t expect chemistry with shortstop Elvis Andrus to be an issue either.
"I know what it takes," Profar said. "You have to work hard every day, focus on things you have to improve."