Kinsler likely to start season on DL

Kinsler likely to start season on DL

TUCSON Ariz. -- All signs point to Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler starting the season on the disabled list with a sprained right ankle.

The Rangers have not made a final decision or a formal announcement. But that's all but certain to happen.

"I don't know yet, but whatever way we go will be in the best interests of Ian," manager Ron Washington said. "We're not going to rush him back but we're not ready to make that announcement."

Kinsler, who is from Tucson but did not make the trip, has been sidelined since March 12, when he slipped on wet grass in pregame warmups and rolled his right ankle. He has not played in a game since then and has been limited to light baseball activities.

He has taken batting practice for a couple of days, and on Tuesday, he took ground balls hit directly at him. But Kinsler, who received an anti-inflammatory injection in the ankle on Friday, has yet to start running, doing any agility drills or trying any sharp lateral movements.

He has also played in just five games and had 10 at-bats this spring. The Rangers open the season on Monday against the Blue Jays at the Ballpark in Arlington and they are quickly running out of time to get Kinsler ready. Kinsler needs to be able to run full speed to be a complete offensive threat.

"That's part of his game," Washington said. "Does he necessarily have to steal bags? No, but that's part of his game. That's what makes him a threat."

The Rangers could put Kinsler on the 15-day disabled list to start the season and backdate it nine days into Spring Training. That means he could miss as few as six days and five games before he returned.

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With Kinsler out, the Rangers are likely to start the season with Andres Blanco at second base and Joaquin Arias as their utility infielder. The Rangers acquired Blanco from the Cubs on Sunday and see him as the answer to their quest to find a backup infielder. Blanco's outstanding defensive skills have shown up quickly since his arrival, and that's mainly what the Rangers were looking for from their utility infielder.

"I'd rather have Kinsler," Washington said. "But I am confident we have a guy who can play defense with [shortstop Elvis Andrus] up the middle until Kinsler is ready."

Reliever Darren O'Day remains sidelined with inflammation in his right elbow but is on a throwing program, and the Rangers are still hopeful he can be ready for Opening Day. The plan is for him to still get two appearances in a game before Opening Day.

Asked who is more likely to be ready for Opening Day, Kinsler or O'Day, Washington said, "O'Day."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.