Kinsler talks ankle, contract and Hamilton

Kinsler talks ankle, contract and Hamilton

Kinsler talks ankle, contract and Hamilton
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler said he is finally recovered from an ankle injury that has bothered him for almost two years. He also has no progress to report about a possible contract extension that would keep him from being a free agent after the 2013 season.

Kinsler discussed a number of subjects on Sunday -- including outfielder Josh Hamilton's relapse, since it left people wondering what his role was on that night. He got caught up in that because he was with Hamilton on that Monday night. Hamilton admitted to drinking in a Dallas bar, but made it clear it was not during the time when he was with Kinsler -- and that he was totally responsible for his relapse and Kinsler had no part in it.

"Josh is taking care of it," Kinsler said on Sunday afternoon at the Rangers' complex. "He's doing what he's always done. He's being open, up front and honest about it. It's not my place to talk about it. I know I was there for a certain part of the night."

He remains good friends with Hamilton, and said he has no problems with the way his teammate handled the backlash from his substance-abuse relapse last month.

"I've gotten over it," Kinsler said. "I'm focused on this season and baseball. I support Josh and will continue to support him. All his teammates and coaches will be there for him. Josh took care of it and said what he needed to say. People can say what they want to say. That's just outside influences driving something that's really not there."

Kinsler was at the complex on Sunday dropping off equipment and picking up family stuff that was shipped to Arizona on the team truck. The first official workout for position players is still a week away, but Kinsler is ready to go now. He has been working out with Jose Vazquez, the Rangers' strength and conditioning coach, and "going at it hard."

Kinsler said he has been able to do that after receiving a platelet-rich-plasma (PRP) injection in his right ankle at the end of November. That's the ankle that he sprained two years ago in Spring Training, forcing him to start the 2010 season on the disabled list. Kinsler said it has been bothering him since then, until he had the injection.

"Right away, after the soreness went away from the needle, I was 100 percent," Kinsler said.

Kinsler had a bone-on-bone situation in the ankle. It was causing a bone bruise and leading toward a stress fracture. The injection gave the ankle some lubrication and cushion at the area of concern.

"End of pain," Kinsler said. "It helped everything. Working in the cage, I can take as many swings as I want. I have been able to do a lot more full-body exercises ... a lot of jumping and agility. That's when it hurt the most, but now I haven't been feeling it at all."

The ankle may have been a problem last season, but it did not put him on the disabled list. Kinsler avoided that for the first time, after going on the disabled list six times in his first five seasons in the Major Leagues.

This would be a good year for Kinsler to be completely healthy. He is entering the last season of a five-year, $22 million contract, and the Rangers hold a $10 million option for 2013, with a $500,000 buyout. It would probably take a serious injury for the Rangers not to exercise that option.

Instead, they talked with Kinsler in the offseason about a long-term contract extension beyond 2013. Kinsler said they had one serious conversation in early January, but that was about it for the winter.

"I think I've been open with my feelings on that," Kinsler said. "I want to stay here, but again, a lot of that is up to them. We'll see how things progress. We'll see if the conversations get fired up again this spring."

General manager Jon Daniels said last week that the Rangers expect this spring to have conversations with multiple players about contract extensions. Kinsler will likely be one of them, but the list could be long. The Rangers have 11 players who were on their World Series roster who could be free agents after either this season or 2013.

"This season hasn't even started yet," Kinsler said. "They have some decisions to make as an organization."

Three of those 11 are outfielders. Hamilton can be a free agent after this season, and Nelson Cruz and David Murphy are eligible after 2013. The Rangers, led by Jurickson Profar, are much more stocked with high-quality infielders in their farm system than they are power-hitting outfielders.

If Kinsler, who hit 32 home runs last season, did sign a long-term contract with the Rangers, it might lead to a possible position change in the future.

"There might be some things they want to talk about," Kinsler said. "I haven't thought about it. I'm focused on playing second base, winning a Gold Glove and helping this team win. That's all open for discussion."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.