Jerry Hairston believes he can handle it. He was once the Baltimore Orioles' starting second baseman and still believes he can be an everyday player. But he passed up opportunities to go elsewhere, and is back with the Rangers trying to earn a job as a utility infielder on a team where the starting infielders hate sitting out even one game.It would seem that he should have gone elsewhere, but Hairston doesn't see it that way. "Hey, I like it here," Hairston said. "I like the guys here, they're great. I had some offers from other teams, but my gut was telling me to come back here." He also isn't conceding to the possibility that even if he does make the team, he'll spend all his time on the bench. "You could have told Mark DeRosa the same thing last year," Hairston said. "You could have told Gary Matthews Jr. that, too. Gary wasn't a starter in this camp last year. Remember? They had Laynce Nix out there." Desi Relaford aims for the same utility infielder job as Hairston. Relaford didn't even play in the big leagues last year and may have to go to Triple-A Oklahoma before he gets another opportunity. But he has 10 years of Major League experience. "My whole career I've had to fight for jobs," Relaford said. "But I've survived and won a few of those. I'm no stranger to competition; this is just another chance to prove I can play. I'm trying to worry about what the future holds. At 33, I still feel 25 or 26 years old. I know I can play this game." They are all over the camp. Reliever Franklyn German has what scout Don Welke calls a "monster arm," but must show he can throw the ball over the plate. Catcher Guillermo Quiroz was once the 35th-best prospect in baseball; Bruce Chen won 13 games for the Orioles in 2005 and none last year; reliever Willie Eyre helped the Twins win a division title last year; and infielder Matt Kata was with the Arizona Diamondbacks for six weeks in 2004 before suffering a dislocated shoulder that derailed his career. None see themselves as ready for the Major League graveyard. "All you can give them is an opportunity," Washington said. "But you never know. One of them just might be that diamond."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less