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Kinsler will remain in leadoff spot for Rangers

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers opened their intrasquad game with Ian Kinsler in the leadoff spot and Elvis Andrus batting second. That's the way they started the spring, and manager Ron Washington said that's how they'll start during the regular season.

Kinsler has been the Rangers' leadoff hitter for the past two years, but he has the power to hit in the middle of the order. During his career, he has averaged 25 home runs every 162 games, and that might be appealing for a team that lost Josh Hamilton, Michael Young and Mike Napoli in the offseason. But Washington prefers Kinsler at the top of the order.

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"He's not a prototypical leadoff hitter, but he can get us a run with one swing of the bat," Washington said. "It's a position he's comfortable at, and I expect him to get back to being the spark plug he was before."

Andrus batted leadoff in 2010 but dropped to the No. 2 spot in each of the last two years. The other alternative would be to go with the center fielder in the leadoff spot -- either Julio Borbon, Leonys Martin or Craig Gentry.

"They're not ready for that," Washington said. "Borbon might be. He has played in the big leagues and led off for me before. Martin ... I want him to break in slowly. Gentry ... I'd much rather have Kinsler and Elvis at the top, and he can be a second leadoff hitter at the bottom."

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