Choo will make spring debut Sunday as DH

Choo will make spring debut Sunday as DH

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Shin-Soo Choo sat out the Rangers' Cactus League opener on Saturday and instead will play in his first game on Sunday against the Royals. Choo is scheduled to start at designated hitter.

The significance is simple. Choo will be the Rangers' designated hitter in the second game of the Cactus League. It is nothing more than that.

Choo may well end up as a full-time designated hitter during the regular season, but manager Jeff Banister said it is way too early to decide that or any other roster decisions. Games are just beginning.

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"We haven't gotten to that point," Banister said. "Let's get through Spring Training, Day 1. Choo is a right fielder, and we need his bat and his presence in the lineup. It's important to have the best offensive team and the best defensive team in the lineup at the same time. That will all clear up as we go forward. I know people want it set in stone, but I'm not ready for that."

The Rangers have too many unknown variables going into the Cactus League. They don't know what's going to happen with Josh Hamilton. They don't know if veteran first baseman James Loney will force his way into the lineup or if Joey Gallo is going to finally take off. They don't know who will play left field.

"We can speculate on a number of things, but I don't like speculation," Banister said. "It's about what's in front of us today. It's all about getting on the field, getting the appropriate number of at-bats and seeing where they go."

The immediate goal is to create as many options as possible, which is why Gallo started in left field on Saturday. He will also play third base this spring, and he has experience at first. If he has a big spring at the plate, the Rangers will find a spot for him.

"He is going to play ... that's the short answer," Banister said. "Go play and compete. Right now, [Gallo's] best opportunity to play is in left field."

Rangers beat:

• The club has reached an agreement with Gallo, pitchers Keone Kela, Eddie Gamboa, Connor Sadzeck and Yohander Mendez, infielder Ronald Guzman, and outfielder Delino DeShields on their 2017 contracts. The Rangers now have every player in camp under contract for this season.

Yu Darvish will start on Sunday against the Royals. He will be followed by Dillon Gee, Andrew Faulkner, Mike Hauschild, Wesley Wright and Adam Loewen.

• Gamboa, a knuckleballer, will start for the Rangers on Monday against the Brewers in Surprise. The Rangers have split-squad games that day, and Chi Chi Gonzalez will start against the Indians in Goodyear, Ariz.

Nick Martinez will start on Tuesday against the D-backs in Surprise. The games on Monday and Tuesday in Surprise can be heard on webcasts.

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