Josh Wilson will make his first Opening Day start Monday, as he is slated to play second base and bat ninth in the Rangers’ lineup.
Wilson made his debut in the Texas blue and red in spring training in February, less than two months prior to Opening Day. Yet, it was his tenure with the Rangers that gave him an edge for Monday’s starting lineup.
The theory was that either Wilson or Donnie Murphy, who was acquired last week, would get the start at second in the wake of Jurickson Profar’s injury.
“Josh has been with me since February,” manager Ron Washington said. “[Wilson and Murphy] are both going to get playing time, but Josh has been with me since February.”
Wilson’s two months in the Rangers organization aren’t the only thing defining him as a veteran. The Rangers are Wilson’s eighth Major League team.
“He can catch the ball, he can play. He’s aware of situations in a game, and he can play baseball,” Washington said of the eight-year pro.
Monday’s showdown against Cliff Lee and the Philadelphia Phillies will be Wilson’s third Opening Day on a major league roster, but it will be his first start. Washington having the confidence to go with him on Opening Day is a thrill and an honor, he said.
Wilson batted .255 with three RBI and 10 runs in 25 games this spring, including two singles in an exhibition game at Globe Life Park. His manager had no doubt that Wilson played his way into the starting lineup this spring.
“Let me put it this way, in writing: Josh Wilson earned the Opening Day start,” Washington said.
Wilson said the competition for the spot between him and Murphy for the second base job is a friendly one, and that the two will likely share time there.
“Donnie and I played together a long time ago, so we’re old buddies,” Wilson said. “I’m sure we’ll both get opportunities to play this year. I’m happy that I’m getting the start on day one. I talked to Donnie and he said he started an Opening Day or two before, so I’m excited to get that first one in.”
Washington said both players will earn playing time in Profar’s absence. He said there is a possibility of a platoon, in which one will play against left-handers and the other against righties.
For what it’s worth, Wilson has pitched for three different teams in the Bigs. He threw one inning each for Tampa Bay, Arizona and San Diego. With the way things have gone for the Rangers’ pitching staff, Wilson may just see time on the mound for a fourth team.
For now, he'll stick to second base. And Tanner Scheppers will throw the first pitch of the Rangers' 2014 season at 1:05 p.m. Monday.