5. Hank Blalock, 3B: Blalock has 668 career at-bats as a cleanup hitter, batting .266 with 22 home runs and 97 RBIs. But he's a .292 hitter with 22 home runs and 88 RBIs in the No. 5 spot and that's where Washington wants to leave him."I'll hit Hank [cleanup] if I deem it necessary, but I just want Hank in a spot where he can get fastballs and do his thing," Washington said. "I don't want Hank up there worrying about the offspeed stuff." 6. Marlon Byrd, LF: This gives Washington a right-handed hitter between Blalock and two left-handed hitters behind him. That's crucial late in the game when an opposing manager brings in his best left-handed setup reliever. David Murphy will also hit down in the order when he's in the starting lineup. 7. Frank Catalanotto, DH: Catalanotto has a .359 career on-base percentage, including a .374 OBP in the leadoff spot. But he's also a pure hitter who seems adaptable to any spot in the lineup. Kinsler also has more speed with 34 stolen bases in two seasons. Catalanotto has 42 in his 11-year career. Catalanotto will likely sit when a left-handed starter is on the mound. 8. Ben Broussard, 1B: Broussard has a career average of one RBI per 6.71 at-bats. That's the third highest ratio of anybody on the Rangers behind Hamilton (6.34) and Blalock (6.46). He has been platooned in his career against left-handed pitchers, but Washington isn't planning on that this season. 9. Gerald Laird or Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C: This is a good spot for Laird because he can run well for a catcher and Washington said he's one of the best bunters on the team. He has 17 bunt hits over the past two seasons, tied for the seventh most among all Major Leaguers. He's trailing the likes of Willy Taveras, Juan Pierre, Corey Patterson and Joey Gathright. The advantage of having Saltalamacchia batting ninth if he ends up the catcher is that it takes some pressure off him as far as required offensive production and allows him to focus on defense and working with pitchers. Of course, all of this is predicated on the Rangers staying healthy. A year ago Washington wasn't planning on Byrd batting cleanup but that ended up being the case when Mark Teixeira was traded and Blalock went down with injuries. By May, Washington could be re-doing the entire lineup based on performance or injuries. But this is the way it lines up in early March.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.