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Kouzmanoff could fill role of righty bat off bench

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SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers made an offer to free-agent infielder Mark Reynolds this winter, but he wasn't interested in being a platoon designated hitter and a backup at third or first base. Reynolds signed with the Brewers instead.

So the Rangers are still looking for a right-handed hitter for that role, and they have the perfect player in camp if Kevin Kouzmanoff can be the player he once was with the Padres and Athletics. Kouzmanoff was the starting third baseman for those two teams in 2007-10, hitting .259 with 75 home runs and 317 RBIs over those four seasons. He hit .283 with a .463 slugging percentage against left-handers.

But Kouzmanoff started off slowly in 2011, hitting .221 with six home runs and 17 RBIs in 46 games. The Athletics reacted with a change at the position and eventually sent Kouzmanoff to the Rockies. He spent the past two seasons in the Minor Leagues.

"In 2011, I got off to a rough start," Kouzmanoff said. "I didn't do any worse than anybody else, but they made a move and I was the guy. That's the way baseball is, I wasn't as productive as I should have been."

Kouzmanoff played in 60 games at Triple-A New Orleans last year, hitting .294 with six home runs and 42 RBIs. He was 10-for-20 against left-handers, but was also on the disabled list three different times.

"I still want to play baseball," Kouzmanoff said. "I still have the burning desire and fire. I'm not done. I want to be a part of a winning team, a championship-caliber team. That's what I'm here for."

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.

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