ARLINGTON -- Beaumont is over 300 miles away from Arlington, but that didn't keep the Broussard family from going to see the Rangers play."I'm from Beaumont and my dad would take me to the old ballpark," Ben Broussard said. "It would be 120 degrees and I'd be standing in the parking lot, waiting to get Nolan Ryan's autograph. We'd go see the Astros too, but I was a big Rangers fan."
"I love Mike, but he'll be the first to tell you that he likes playing the same guys every night," Broussard said. "For a bench player, he's a hard guy to play for. I love him, but I know he runs his starters out there every day."When I got out there, it would be against a No. 1 starter. Or if I pinch-hit, it would be against the closer. I was getting in there in tough situations, but I had to gut it up and do my job. It was hard to do and it was totally different. I'll never look at playing every day the same again. It was really frustrating." He did not complain publicly, but spoke often about his situation with Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi. The Mariners admitted that Broussard was an everyday player but still needed him, especially with Sexson struggling through the worst season of his career. Broussard ended up playing in 99 games and hitting .275 in 240 at-bats. But, his .404 slugging percentage was his lowest since his rookie season and 54 points below his career average. He also knew going into the offseason that his time with the Mariners was probably up, either through a trade or being non-tendered in December. "It was like going through the Draft all over again," Broussard said. "You knew you were going somewhere, you just didn't know where." The Rangers wanted him. They were exploring every possible option including free agents Tony Clark and Sean Casey. But general manager Jon Daniels was privately saying that Broussard was his first choice of all that might be available. The feeling was mutual and Broussard was ecstatic when the Mariners told him that he had been traded to the Rangers. His family now lives in Georgetown, just north of Austin. "The Mariners trading me to Texas was one of the classiest things I've ever seen in baseball," Broussard said. "They could have traded me somewhere else. They could have traded me to a National League team, where I would have been a bench player, a role player or a pinch-hitter. "But they traded me to Texas, even though it was within the division, we play 19 times a year and I'll be out there trying to do everything I can to beat them. It was a classy move on their part." The Rangers need it to be a shrewd move on their part and Broussard, who turned 31 in September, needs to re-establish himself as an everyday player. He can be a free agent after the season and would obviously love to remain with the Rangers. "I don't want to be labeled as a bench player," Broussard said. "This year is a big year for me but every year is big. Baseball is so competitive and there are so many talented guys out there, there is always somebody out there trying to take your job. I just want to be healthy, play hard and do my job. I just want to come into Spring Training in the best possible shape and be ready when the season starts."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.