Rua to focus on left field early in camp

24-year-old competing for starting job; Kirkman has shoulder impingement

Rua to focus on left field early in camp

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Ryan Rua is capable of playing multiple positions, but the Rangers want him focused on left field early in camp.

Rua can also play first, second and third base, but he is one of the leading candidates to be the starting left fielder. So that's where the Rangers want him focused on for right now.

"He is the type of player who needs to continue to get work in all those areas," Rangers manager Jeff Banister. "But we'd like to give him and the other candidate in left field every opportunity to compete for that job."

Rua played in 28 games as a rookie last season and hit .295 with a .321 on-base percentage and a .419 slugging percentage. He got almost all of his playing time at first base and left field. The Rangers shouldn't need him at first base with Prince Fielder back. In the Minor Leagues, Rua played 209 games at third base, 106 at second base, 27 in left field, 24 at first base and 11 at shortstop.

"Whatever gets me out there," Rua said. "The more positions the more valuable you are, so whatever they want me to work on is what I'm going to do.

Kirkman has shoulder impingement

Michael Kirkman, who is trying to make the team as a left-handed reliever, has an impingement in the back of his left shoulder. The initial report said he will likely miss a week.

Kirkman, signed to a Minor League contract, is one of three left-handed relievers in camp. The others are rookies Alex Claudio and Martire Garcia.

"I think this is a case of having a man who was truly honest and came to us and said, 'Hey, I feel this. Letting you know.'" Banister said. "We're being conservative and prudent and said let's back off. The report that was given to me was this is how he felt, and we're going to slow him down a little bit."

General manager Jon Daniels said the Rangers aren't ready to rush out and sign a left-handed reliever just yet.

"The same thing … we've talked about some people," Daniels said. "As camps open, there are certain clubs that have depth in that area, and we have depth in other areas. It's something we'll be on the lookout for."

Rangers set pitchers record

Worth noting

Adrian Beltre enters the season with 395 career home runs. Only 51 players have hit 400 home runs in their careers.

• Pitching coach Mike Maddux on hard-throwing reliever Keone Kela: "Nitro. The ball comes out of his hand hot, real hot."

• Catcher Carlos Corporan on having a former catcher like Banister as the manager: "I love it because he will understand our situation. He played the position so he understands what it's all about. Catcher is not an easy position. You have a lot of things to worry about it, a lot of details you have to be paying attention to."

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.