With start at first, Hanser a true utility infielder

With start at first, Hanser a true utility infielder

ARLINGTON -- Hanser Alberto is now a complete utility infielder, with first base officially on his resume.

Alberto made his first start at first base in Wednesday night's 3-2 win as manager Jeff Banister stacked his lineup with right-handed hitters against Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia. Ryan Rua, a more experienced first baseman, was also in the lineup, but at designated hitter.

The Rangers went into Spring Training wanting Alberto to be able to play first base, and he has accomplished that. Banister said that Alberto has become a "slightly above average" first baseman defensively.

"He might have the best range, just because he is a good shortstop," Banister said.

Alberto had his first experience playing the position in winter ball.

"It's not bad," Alberto said. "I have been working a lot in batting practice and getting more comfortable. I have been asking Mitch Moreland a lot of questions. We'll do it in a game and see what happens."

Alberto handled himself well, especially with a couple of nice plays in the fourth. With one out, he snatched Mark Teixeira's sharp liner. Then, with two on and two out, he had to range well to his right to field Chase Headley's grounder and make a long underhanded toss to Martin Perez covering the bag to end the inning.

"We felt he could play anywhere across the dirt," Banister said. "We worked on it in Spring Training and we knew coming out of winter ball he felt comfortable at first. He had some nice plays."

Alberto can also play the outfield in an emergency and is listed as the Rangers' third catcher. He'd be willing to pitch if needed.

"Yeah, if they needed me," he said. "In the Minor Leagues, if you are a prospect, you play one position. Here you do what they tell you."

Triple Play set for May 26: The Rangers have announced that the Park Place Dealerships Triple Play Game Show Spectacular will take place on May 26 at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas. Proceeds will go to the building and funding of the Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy in West Dallas.

The theme for the event is "Fields of Dreams." The Triple Play features live and silent auctions and attendance by the entire Rangers team. The highlight of the evening is the players competing against one another in a pair of game shows. This year's competitions will be the annual fan favorite Fielders Feud, and Minute to Win It.

Among the items that will be up for bid in the auctions are trips to see the Rangers play in Chicago's Wrigley Field, Colorado's Coors Field and Houston's Minute Maid Park, and private hitting and pitching lessons with current players.

Rangers beat:
• Outfielder Josh Hamilton, recovering from surgery on his left knee, remains in extended spring training, where he is playing in games. Said Banister: "From the reports I've got, he's moving well, swinging the bat well and making solid contact. He's got some strikeouts also, but he looks good and is able to respond each day. He is doing the work he is slated to work."

• Entering Wednesday, the Rangers are 9-0 this season when they get three or more hits with runners in scoring position.

• Catcher Chris Gimenez is 4-for-9 in the first three games of his rehab assignment with Double-A Frisco. Gimenez is still working his way up to catching nine innings and playing back-to-back games. He began the season on the disabled list while recovering from an infection in his left leg.

• The Rangers have released former top pitching prospect Cody Buckel from Frisco. Buckel was the Rangers' Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2012 but has dealt with severe control issues the past four seasons, walking 137 batters in 124 innings.

• Another former top prospect, right-hander David Perez, has been promoted to Frisco after going 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA in four games at high Class A High Desert. Perez has overcome Tommy John surgery and other injuries to re-establish himself.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. 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.