SEATTLE -- When Nelson Cruz is able to play defense, he will return to right field. That means David Murphy will shift to left and Josh Hamilton will be back in center. That will be the Rangers' outfield alignment down the stretch and into the playoffs.
The Rangers had been platooning Endy Chavez and Craig Gentry in center field with Hamilton staying in left. But that will end when Cruz is ready to play. There is one reason why manager Ron Washington wants to stay with this alignment: more offense.
"Damage," Washington said.
But he also does not believe he loses defense by going with this alignment.
"Cruz is a quality right fielder. If Hamilton is in center he's one of the best in the game and we all know Murphy can play left field," Washington said.
Hamilton, who missed six weeks in the first half with a fractured bone in his right arm, has started 77 games in left field and 25 in center. The Rangers prefer him in left to reduce wear and tear as well as the risk of injury. But at this point Washington is ready to go with his best possible lineup to the end of the season and beyond.
"If we get a chance to be in the playoffs, that will be the case," Washington said.