Speedy Robinson could race to Rangers' roster

Speedy Robinson could race to Rangers' roster

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Drew Robinson is a left-handed hitter who can play multiple positions all over the field. He also has speed and that may give him an advantage over James Loney for a spot on the Rangers' bench.

Loney's primary asset is as a left-handed hitter who can back up Mike Napoli at first base. But Napoli isn't expected to miss much time, even against tough right-handers, and the Rangers also have Jurickson Profar who can play first base if needed.

Robinson, ranked as the Rangers' No. 23 prospect by MLBPipeline.com, can also play first base even though he hasn't been used much there this spring.

"I've played about 20 games there in each of the last three years," Robinson said. "Two years ago they sent me to [Double-A] Round Rock and I played first base in the playoffs."

His speed stands out because manager Jeff Banister loves using pinch-runners in late-inning situations. The Rangers used 48 pinch-runners last season, the most in the Major Leagues. They scored 20 runs, also the most. The Rangers used a pinch-hitter 82 times, fifth fewest in the Majors, and they hit a combined .155.

"A pinch-runner has a chance to have a bigger impact," Banister said.

Robinson had a career-high 17 stolen bases and 10 triples at Round Rock last season.

Rangers beat

• Infielder Hanser Alberto was scratched from Monday's lineup because of soreness in his right shoulder. Alberto has been getting extensive playing time because of Elvis Andrus missing the first two weeks of Cactus League play, and Rougned Odor and Jurickson Profar being away at the World Baseball Classic. Alberto will likely be sidelined for a few days and is not expected to make the trip to San Antonio this weekend.

• The fifth-starter competition will be on display during Big League Weekend in San Antonio. A.J. Griffin is expected to start Friday night against the Indians in the Alamodome and Dillon Gee pitches Saturday.

• Napoli, Delino DeShields and Nomar Mazara are among those who will be traveling to San Antonio for the two games against the Indians.

Tyson Ross, coming back from shoulder surgery, threw another bullpen session Monday and started mixing in the occasional breaking ball. He threw 30 pitches. The Rangers are hoping he'll be able to throw to live hitters before they break camp.

Andrew Cashner, sidelined with right bicep soreness, is throwing 105 to 120 feet on the side without any issues.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.