FRISCO, Texas -- When outfielder Michael Choice was acquired by the Rangers from Oakland earlier this winter, it appeared he had a chance to win a job as the starting left fielder.
That was on Dec. 3. However, that was also the day Rangers general manager Jon Daniels was in California meeting with agent Scott Boras to discuss free agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo. Three weeks later, the Rangers officially announced the signing of Choo to a seven-year, $130 million contract to be their left fielder.
"The team got better," Choice said. "My job is still the same, go in there and help the team win. Obviously, this is going to delay [being an everyday player] a little bit, but you still have to win a job. Nobody is going to give it to you, especially early in your career. You still have to go out and prove yourself."
There is still a consolation prize to be won. Choice, a right-handed hitter, could still make the Rangers as a fourth outfielder and a part-time designated hitter. Choo, Martin and Mitch Moreland, who is currently the leading candidate to be the designated hitter, are all left-handed hitters.
"I wouldn't consider it a consolation prize," said Choice on Saturday at the Frisco Roughriders open house event at Dr. Pepper Ballpark. "Those are at-bats that can help the team win. Somebody will have to fill that void."
It could be Choice or it could be somebody with more experience. Daniels said the Rangers are still looking for another right-handed hitter, most likely somebody who can complement Moreland at designated hitter.
The long-term prognosis is Choice is not expected to be a part-time player. Choice was taken by Oakland with the 10th overall pick in the 2010 Draft out of UT-Arlington and he spent last season at Triple-A Sacramento. Choice played in 132 games and hit .302 with 90 runs scored, 14 home runs and 89 RBIs in 600 plate appearances. He had a .390 on-base percentage and a .445 slugging percentage.
The Athletics called him up in September and Choice had five hits, including a double, in 18 at-bats. Choice is a highly-regarded prospect viewed as a potential impact offensive player.
If he doesn't earn a spot this season, he could end up as the Rangers' right fielder in 2015. Rios is a free agent after this season although the Rangers hold a $13.5 million option for 2016.
"I just want to be in the best possible shape in Spring Training and be ready to swing the bat," Choice said. "I want to be ready on Day 1 to make an impact. As long as I'm in the field contributing, that's the main goal."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less