Martin has chance to leave lasting impression

Martin has chance to leave lasting impression

ARLINGTON -- Outfielder Leonys Martin was called up to the big leagues because Josh Hamilton had to miss a few days with an intestinal virus. He wasn't supposed to be here long, but everything changed when first baseman Mitch Moreland was lost for four-to-six weeks with a strained left hamstring.

Now Martin has a chance to stay here much longer if he can prove he belongs. Going 2-for-4 with a double, triple and three RBIs against the Rockies on Sunday certainly helps. It was his third start for the Rangers since being called up from Triple-A Round Rock.

"It was a positive night for me," said the Rangers' No. 4 prospect, as ranked by MLB.com. "It makes me feel more confident. Defensively and offensively, the more you play, the more confident you are."

The Rangers signed Martin as a free agent on May 4, 2011, after he defected from Cuba. He was a September callup last season, but most of his time has been spent either in the Minor Leagues or on the disabled list. But in 104 Minor League games, he is hitting .309 with a .378 on-base percentage and a .458 slugging percentage.

Manager Ron Washington said the Rangers are confident Martin can hit but still needs work on his defense. But right now, as a left-handed hitter, he is getting a chance to play against right-handed pitching, and he was back in the lineup on Monday against Tigers starter Rick Porcello.

"He did a good job defensively [on Sunday], but he hasn't had a chance to be challenged yet," Washington said. "Routes, throwing, hitting the cutoff man, leads, reading pitchers, running the bases, those are the things he has to get better at and add to his game. He couldn't be in a better place under the supervision of [outfield coach] Gary Pettis. His game has got 100 percent better since he got here."