Kinsler ready to move on from injury-plagued year
By T.R. Sullivan / 12/11/12 9:00 PM ET
ARLINGTON -- Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler revealed Tuesday that he considered having surgery at the All-Star break on a painful left ankle that has been a persistent problem for him.
Kinsler injured the ankle during Spring Training in 2010 and spent the first month of that season on the disabled list. The problem never really subsided, and he had a platelet-rich plasma injection 13 months ago to alleviate the pain. But the ankle still bothered him through the first couple of months of the 2012 season.
"It was completely gone, and then it came back," Kinsler said. "I dealt with it for the first couple of months of the season. It was probably the worst it's been. It was weird. We actually discussed doing the surgery again, and then we discussed waiting until the All-Star break because we couldn't find a time in the schedule where it would work out. It just kind of went away. It's completely fine."
Kinsler finished the season hitting .256 with 105 runs scored, 19 home runs, 72 RBIs and 21 stolen bases. But, with a .326 on-base percentage and a .423 slugging percentage, his .749 OPS was the lowest of his seven-year career.
"It obviously wasn't a year up to my standards," Kinsler said. "I want to provide more energy for this club. I want to be someone who's not the same every day. I don't want to be the exact same player every day you come to the field. I think I need to show more emotion. I think our team as a whole needs to show more emotion, more energy.
"That's obviously one of my responsibilities as a player. It's what I'm good at, so I need to get back to that. As far as numbers are concerned, I think every player has up-and-down seasons throughout their career. It's something you go through, and there's a lot of reasons why it happened."
Kinsler spoke Tuesday at the Ballpark in Arlington, where he was signing autographs at the Rangers' annual Cowboys Santas Toy Drive. Just a few days earlier, the Rangers traded infielder Michael Young to the Phillies for two pitchers.
Young and Kinsler had been teammates and best friends for seven years, with their lockers side by side in the Rangers clubhouse.
"It's always tough when you see a player go, regardless of who it is," Kinsler said. "He's obviously extremely accomplished in a Rangers uniform. You never want to see a player of his caliber leave the team. But I know he's extremely excited for his opportunity. I think he's expressed his feelings towards the last two years with this team. I think he's excited for the opportunity. I think the Phillies got a great player. He's got a lot of baseball left."
Young's departure leaves Kinsler as the senior member of the Rangers, as far as continuous service time. Young was also the Rangers' unofficial team captain, leaving a possible void of leadership within the clubhouse.
Kinsler is one of those who will be looked upon to help fill the void.
"It's a little overrated, honestly," Kinsler said. "The goal of the team is not who the leader is. The goal of the team is to win and get back to the exciting style of baseball we had in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Last year it just felt like there wasn't that excitement, that energy.
"Regardless of who the leader is or who you guys want to say the leader is, it's about getting the energy back in our ballclub. I'm going to do my best to provide that. To be a leader, you have to perform in the field and you have to perform in the clubhouse. It doesn't matter who it is. There's no next in line."
Young was with the Rangers for 12 seasons. Kinsler has a chance to equal that. In 2013, he will begin the five-year, $75 million contract extension that he signed right after Opening Day last year.
He could also be looking at a position change. Kinsler said general manager Jon Daniels has spoken to him about a possible switch to first base, a move that would allow the Rangers to go with rookie Jurickson Profar at second.
Kinsler reiterated that he would be open to the move. He said a switch to the outfield has not been discussed.
"We've talked about [first base], but it's not like a direct conversation," Kinsler said. "It's more about, 'How would you feel about playing first base?' kind of thing. It's not like a direct, 'You're going to first.' My feeling is whatever I need to do to help this team win, honestly. If they believe putting me at first base is going to field a better team, I'm all for it."
The Rangers haven't made that call yet because Daniels and his staff are still trying to put together the team for 2013. The Rangers are still trying to re-sign outfielder Josh Hamilton, they are still discussing a possible trade for Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton, and they are still looking for starting pitching.
The Rangers are only halfway through the offseason, and there are still potential moves to be made.
"Things just haven't fallen into place for us," Kinsler said. "We've obviously made an attempt to acquire players, and it just hasn't happened. Things happen and the ball doesn't roll your way. Whether they make adjustments and try to do something else is up to them.
"I have complete confidence in the players we have right now. I don't think there needs to be additions. I'm confident that our front office is going to give us the greatest chance they can to put the best team on the field to win a championship."