Veteran outfielder Ludwick joins Rangers on Minors deal

Righty hitter, who debuted with Texas in '02, to compete for time in left field, at DH

Veteran outfielder Ludwick joins Rangers on Minors deal

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers added another right-handed bat to their Spring Training mix by signing veteran outfielder Ryan Ludwick to a Minor League contract.

Ludwick, who made his Major League debut with the Rangers in 2002, has spent the past three seasons with the Reds. He played in 112 games in 2014, hitting .244 with nine home runs, 45 RBIs and a .375 slugging percentage. He hit .253 with a .473 slugging percentage against left-handed pitchers.

"Ryan's a pro," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "He gives you a quality at-bat and can play both corners. Very good teammate. He's been getting ready in Austin and our guys were impressed with the way he looks. He gives us a veteran to mix into the competition for left field and a right-handed bat."

Ludwick, 36, enters the left-field competition along with Michael Choice, Ryan Rua and Jake Smolinski. The Rangers could even throw backup first baseman Mitch Moreland and Rule 5 Draft pick Delino DeShields into the mix.

Ludwick's diving catch

In addition to Ludwick, the Rangers have signed outfielder Carlos Peguero and Kyle Blanks to Minor League contracts with invitations to Spring Training. They are also bringing outfielder Jared Hoying into camp from their own farm system. Outfielder Antoan Richardson will also be in camp on a Minor League invite, but is more of a center fielder.

Ludwick also has the potential to platoon with Moreland, a left-handed hitter, at designated hitter. Ludwick is one of 57 players in Major League history -- along with Rickey Henderson -- who bats right-handed but throws left-handed.

Ludwick was originally drafted by the Athletics in the second round of the 1999 First-Year Player Draft and has 12 roller-coaster big league seasons with six teams. He was an All-Star with the Cardinals in 2008 just two years after spending the entire 2006 season in Triple-A. The Cardinals got him by signing him to a Minor League contract that winter.

Ludwick had one of his best seasons with the Reds in 2012 when he hit .275 with 26 home runs, 80 RBIs and a .531 slugging percentage. But he developed torn cartilage in his right shoulder the following season.

The Rangers originally acquired him on Jan. 14, 2002, in a six-player trade with the Athletics. Texas traded first baseman Carlos Pena and reliever Mike Venafro to Oakland for Ludwick, first baseman Jason Hart, catcher Gerald Laird and pitcher Mario Ramos.

At the time, Ludwick was considered a top center-field prospect, but a hip injury significantly curtailed his career at the beginning. The Rangers traded him to the Indians the following season.

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.