Leonys in position to keep leadoff role next season

Leonys in position to keep leadoff role next season

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers had a message for Leonys Martin in his season-ending exit interview on Thursday: Be ready in 2015 to be the starting center fielder and leadoff hitter.

If Tim Bogar is back as manager, that's the role he envisions for Martin. The center-field job is hardly a surprise. The leadoff role is more significant.

When Shin-Soo Choo was sidelined because of his injuries in September, the Rangers gave Martin a chance to be the everyday leadoff hitter. He has thrived in the role, hitting .319 with a .372 on-base percentage and 13 runs scored in his last 18 games.

"There is still work to do, but his approach is better, at times his swing has been better and his patience has gotten better," Bogar said. "He has used the bunt all year, but now he is using the bunt at the right time. I believe he has a big upside as a leadoff hitter to get our offense rolling next year."

The Rangers also see the potential for a premier defensive center fielder.

"We all know how gifted he is with his speed and his throwing arm," Bogar said. "Now it's time for the next level of focus and play defense the way we expect him to play. Be the general, take charge and run down everything.

"His talent is by far as high or higher than any center fielder that plays in this league. I don't think there's a guy in center field that has the arm that he has. He runs just as fast or faster than all of them."

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.