Stubbs relishes prospect of an increased role

Stubbs relishes prospect of an increased role

SEATTLE -- Will Venable was 2-for-4 in the leadoff spot in Tuesday night's 8-6 win over the Mariners. On Wednesday, it was Drew Stubbs' turn to play center and lead off, while Delino DeShields was sidelined with a sprained left knee.

Stubbs started on Wednesday because there was a left-hander on the mound. The Rangers are hoping DeShields will be back by Friday but if not, Stubbs may be needed again on Saturday and Sunday with left-handed starters scheduled for the Athletics.

Stubbs may be in for a more prominent role than initially anticipated when he was signed as a free agent after being released by the Rockies. But he is a seven-year veteran with post-season experience with the Reds, so he knows what this month is about.

"With Delino banged up, that might elevate me, but this is what you relish, to be in the heat of a playoff race," Stubbs said. "You hate to use a cliché but sometimes things happen for a reason. In my situation, I know I can bring a lot to the table. It just so happened that Colorado was out of it, looking to the future, it didn't make a whole lot of sense to keep me. Now I've latched onto a playoff team, it's great for me. It couldn't be more fun."

The Rangers were busy at the July 31 Trade Deadline reinforcing their pitching staff and straightening out their catching situation. But privately they were concerned about their outfield situation going into August. Ryan Rua and Leonys Martin were struggling off the bench, and Josh Hamilton was dealing with leg issues.

Before the month was over, Ryan Strausborger was up from Triple A and Venable had been acquired from the Padres and Stubbs had been signed to a Minor League contract with an ETA of Sept. 1.

"All of us -- the scouts, the front office staff, the coaching staff -- talked about areas to improve, and that was one of the topics," manager Jeff Banister said. "We could tell we needed to back up DeShields in center, but we also knew we needed a player or two with some experience out there. We knew Josh's knee wasn't great. There were a number of factors pointing to [the fact that] we needed help.

"It's like the Boy Scouts. You better have a backup plan for your backup plan. We reached down and got Plan D."

DeShields, who injured the knee in Monday's game, did some straight-ahead running on the knee Wednesday without any problems. DeShields estimated he ran at 80 percent but still hasn't tried to go full-speed or run the bases. Those will be the final hurdles for him.

"If it were up to me, a couple of days of rest and treatment, and I should be back," DeShields said. "It's how I feel and what I feel I can do. Today I sprinted and felt fine. I hit and I threw and I felt fine."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. 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.