With year under belt, DeShields expects improvement in center

With year under belt, DeShields expects improvement in center

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Delino DeShields wants to be a better center fielder in 2016. To do so, DeShields wants to get closer to the infield.

In his first season in the Major Leagues, DeShields said he played too deep in center. Inexperience played a part in that, as he came up as a second baseman in the Minors until being switched to center in 2014.

"Last year, I was a first-year player, so I wanted to be more safe than sorry," said DeShields, who committed five errors for a .976 fielding percentage in center. "If something got over my head, it could have been a disaster for the team. So that's something I have been working on, getting back on the ball."

DeShields' diving snag

The Rangers also want DeShields to work on getting better jumps and taking more direct routes to the baseball. Manager Jeff Banister said that comes with recognition of the situation, focusing between pitches and anticipating what comes next.

"You need to read and react consistently," Banister said. "The more balls you can get to in front of you comfortably, the more you can get back and take away balls over your head."

The defensive numbers from 2015 aren't too kind to DeShields. His range factor of 2.36 ranked 12th among 16 American League center fielders with at least 60 games. He is determined to get better, and a year of experience in center should help.

"The best way you learn is in game situations, but it also starts in batting practice … working on playing in more," DeShields said. "You challenge yourself to be uncomfortable so you can be comfortable. That's what I'm doing."

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.