ARLINGTON -- Rangers manager Ron Washington gushed about the play of center fielder Craig Gentry, who has impressed with his speed and defensive abilities since being called up on May 7. On June 3, Julio Borbon was activated from the disabled list after recovering from left hamstring inflammation. If he was going to be on the Major League team, someone had to be optioned to the Minors. Gentry, who played the same position as Borbon and was sporting a .205 batting average at the time, seemed like a prime candidate to be sent back to Triple-A Round Rock for the second time this season. But the Rangers optioned Borbon to Round Rock instead. From there, Gentry hasn't looked back, batting .304 (24-for-79) with 13 steals in 42 appearances.
"I am very happy for Gentry. He brings assets that a lot of teams would like to have," Washington said. "He can run like the dickens, he makes contact, he can play the heck out of some outfield. He's an asset that I think every manager would like to have. He's a guy you can put up in there, and if you need a bag, he can go get you a bag. He's always ready. I'm very pleased. What he's doing right now can definitely build his confidence." Gentry and his center field mate, Endy Chavez, will more than likely be pushed out of the starting lineup when Nelson Cruz returns full time -- as Josh Hamilton would move from left field to center field, and David Murphy would move to left to make room for Cruz in right. "Gentry will play when he gets to play, when that happens," Washington said. "I'm not going to move other people out of the way to get Gentry in the lineup." While that may mean Gentry won't be starting much for the remainder of the season, there is a good chance he will be used as a defensive replacement or pinch-runner for Cruz in the late innings. Cruz has to protect his hamstring from re-aggravation in right field and on the basepaths by making sure to take more controlled and smaller steps. That's a role that Gentry's shown some aptitude in, as he has stolen two bases and scored two runs in eight appearances as a pinch-runner. He is also a perfect 18-for-18 on stolen-base attempts, which is the most without being caught in the Major Leagues. "Gentry, that boy just outruns the baseball, that's all there is to it," Washington said. "I'll encourage him when he gets on the bag, if everything dictates that he can go get a bag, go get a bag. I'm not concerned about him getting thrown out, because if he gets thrown out, you have to tip your hat to the catcher, because he had to make a perfect throw."