ARLINGTON -- The Indians had a right-hander on the mound on Sunday night, and that normally means Ramon Vazquez, a left-handed hitter with a .304 batting average, is in the Rangers' lineup. He wasn't. Indians manager Ron Washington went with Joaquin Arias at second base for a second straight day. With Ian Kinsler on the disabled list with a sports hernia, the Rangers want to take this opportunity to get as much of a look at Arias as possible. "I want to see [Arias] more," Washington said before the game. "We waited a long time to get him here, and it's my first time to see him. He's been in the plans for years, so we want to see him as much as we can."
Arias carries a special spot in the Rangers' organization. He's all they have left to show for the 2005 trade that sent Alex Rodriguez to the Yankees for Alfonso Soriano. The Rangers took Arias as the player to be named later rather than Robinson Cano. The Rangers took him because he was considered a standout defensively at shortstop, and he has fulfilled those expectations. He represented the Rangers at the 2006 Futures Game in Pittsburgh. But he suffered a right shoulder injury the following year in Spring Training and missed almost all of the 2007 season. He rebounded nicely to hit .296 at Triple-A Oklahoma this season, but the shoulder has not recovered enough from his July 2, 2007 surgery to allow him to move back full time to shortstop. He played mostly second base at Oklahoma this season. "It's feeling better but it's not 100 percent," Arias said. He said he'll play shortstop in the Dominican Winter League this offseason. "I like to play shortstop," Arias said. "My passion is to play shortstop, but I can play second base. The first time I was with the Yankees, I played second base." It may not matter either way, not with Kinsler at second base and Michael Young at shortstop. Both are signed through 2013. The Rangers also have Elvis Andrus, another standout defensive shortstop, at Double-A Frisco. "That a long time," Arias admitted. "But that's all right. I'm OK, I'm playing baseball. Maybe one day I'll play everyday with another team. When I was playing with the Yankees, I never thought about playing with the Rangers." He is now. It may be a small window, but the Rangers do seem determined to look at him while they can.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.