Time To Shine

Arias has chance at big league role





Surprise, Ariz.—As far as his Rangers future is concerned, it really is now or never for infielder Joaquin Arias.

But, for a change, it is solely up to him to determine that future.

Arias, the lone remaining piece of the Alex Rodriguez deal still under Texas' control, arrived at spring training out of minor league options and facing an uphill battle to win the final spot on the bench. But before the Rangers ever took the field for a workout, free agent Khalil Greene, whom the Rangers had signed as the backup middle infielder, backed out of his commitment due to recurring symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder.

That left the 25-year-old Arias as the leader in the clubhouse for the utility position. The Rangers need somebody who can play shortstop as a backup to Elvis Andrus. While the Rangers like veteran Esteban German, he is not really a shortstop. Going into last year, the same statement might have been made of Arias because of two seasons of a weak arm due to shoulder surgery.

Last year, however, he played shortstop all season for Triple-A Oklahoma City and also played the position for eventual champion Escogido in the Dominican Winter League. One of his plays during the Dominican playoffs was so stellar, it made ESPN's top 10 plays of the day.

"What happened in the past is the past," Arias said upon arriving at spring training. "That was two years ago. I just want to forget it. In my mind, the only thing right now is to go out and play, play, play."

Arias traditionally has strong springs at the plate, perhaps because of his Dominican experience. He may very well need that to erase any lingering doubts created by a season of .266/.295/.335 at Oklahoma City.

RANGER ROUNDUP

• It has not been a good spring for the members of the BA Top 30 Rangers prospect list. Catcher Tomas Telis, No. 26, did not even make it to spring training before it was determined he would need Tommy John surgery. After only a couple of throwing sessions at spring, righthander Omar Poveda, No. 20, disclosed soreness in his arm that revealed a tear in the ulnar collateral ligament, also requiring Tommy John.

• The Rangers signed 16-year-old Dominican lefthander Victor Payano for $75,000. Payano had agreed to a $900,000 bonus with Boston before failing a physical. Payano's injury has not been disclosed, but team doctors did clear him.