Rios' time with Rangers could be winding down

Choo expected to shift from left to right field coming off ankle surgery

Rios' time with Rangers could be winding down

OAKLAND -- Outfielder Shin-Soo Choo underwent ankle surgery on Wednesday. It's the latest sign that right fielder Alex Rios most likely won't be back with the Rangers next season.

The Rangers have a $14 million option on Rios for 2015, but it appears increasingly likely they will not pick it up and instead pay the $1 million buyout.

One reason is that Choo, after his injury-ravaged season, is expected to shift from left to right field next season under the theory that it is less taxing physically. It is also his most comfortable position. The Rangers would then either go with one of their internal options for left -- rookies Michael Choice, Ryan Rua, Jake Smolinski or Daniel Robertson -- or look for a cheaper alternative on the free-agent market.

The Rangers would then be able use the $14 million due Rios to help reinforce their battered pitching staff. General manager Jon Daniels said the Rangers have a good idea of what they want to do but won't make a final decision until after the season.

"I'm just waiting to see what will happen," Rios said. "The team has to make the decision. You don't know if they are going to try going the free-agent route or go with a farm product. It's tough to tell."

Rios was hitting .280 with four home runs, 54 RBIs, a .311 on-base percentage and a .398 slugging percentage in 131 games. But he hasn't played since Sept. 4 because of a bruised right thumb that became infected. He has been dealing with that and a sprained ankle for most of the second half, which may explain why he has gone from hitting .305 with a .440 slugging percentage before the All-Star break to .211 with a .281 slugging percentage after.

Rios is with the Rangers on this road trip but is not sure if he will play again this season. He will test the thumb at some point to see if he is capable of swinging the bat. There may not be any reason for him to play again this season other than to prove to other clubs that he is healthy.

"I like to be on the field," Rios said. "It's something I really take pride in. I like to be on the field playing as much as I can. If I can play 162 games, I'm for it. But you have to look at the whole situation and see what's best."

Rios has had down years before. In 2011, he hit .227 with 13 home runs, 44 RBIs and a career-low .348 slugging percentage. He came back strong in 2012, hitting a career-high .304 with 25 home runs and 91 RBIs. His .516 slugging percentage was also a career high.

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.