Mending DeShields hopes for quick return

Center fielder sustained mild left knee sprain on Monday

Mending DeShields hopes for quick return

SEATTLE -- Will Venable moved into the leadoff spot for the Rangers on Tuesday night as they wait to see how long center fielder Delino DeShields will be sidelined with a mild left knee sprain.

DeShields, who has started 72 games in the leadoff spot, injured the knee trying to steal third base in the seventh inning on Monday night and had to come out of the game. He was not available on Tuesday, but the Rangers are cautiously hoping he won't be out that long.

"I feel better than I thought I would feel," DeShields. "I'm not trying to do too much, but I can walk on it fine. We're trying [aggressive] treatment to get it back to normal. Everything I did today was fine. I didn't have any issues so we'll just go from there."

The concern is how the knee will impact DeShield's speed, which is critical to his overall game. He leads the American League with 10 bunt hits and seventh with 22 infield hits. His 22 stolen bases rank fifth.

"I am going to be smart about it and not rush it," DeShields said. "If I can't help the team the way I can since I have been playing, I'm not going to be selfish just to be out there. When I'm ready to give what I can, I'll be out there."

The Rangers don't lack for leadoff candidates. Shin-Soo Choo, Elvis Andrus, Drew Stubbs and Venable all have at least 700 plate appearances in their career at the top of the lineup. Stubbs batted leadoff on Sunday with a left-hander on the mound and DeShields getting a day off. Venable, a left-handed hitter, started with a right-hander on the mound on Tuesday.

"Venable is a guy who has done it," manager Jeff Banister said. "He is a veteran big leaguer who controls the strike zone, gets on base, steals bases, does the same things Delino does at the top of the lineup. We haven't asked Delino to be a dynamic basestealer. We are a little different in the sense that we've got a couple of guys in the middle of the lineup that we depend on driving him in. We don't like those guys being pitched around."

The Rangers could end up with a platoon of Venable and Stubbs in center, and Joey Gallo and Ryan Strausborger in left while DeShields is out. Gallo was also in the lineup on Tuesday.

The Rangers did not make a roster move on Tuesday. The only healthy 40-man position player still not here is Ryan Rua, who is playing at Triple-A Round Rock.

"We have talked about some options," Banister said. "I don't think we are completely done bringing players up, but not right now in lieu of Delino being down."

Leonys Martin is still recovering from surgery for a broken hamate bone in his right hand. He could be an option at some point, but only as a pinch-runner and defensive player. Josh Hamilton is still active as a pinch-hitter, but still recovering from a sore left knee and unavailable to play the field.

"He is very limited in that area," Banister said.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.