Kouzmanoff's journey continues as starting third baseman in Beltre's absence

Kouzmanoff's journey continues as starting third baseman in Beltre's absence

Credit: Getty Images

Kevin Kouzmanoff #6 and Rougned Odor #73 of the Texas Rangers celebrate after scoring two runs in the fifth inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Surprise Stadium on March 10, 2014 in Surprise, Arizona. (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)

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by LANDON HAAF

WFAA Sports

Posted on April 12, 2014 at 6:35 PM

Updated Saturday, Apr 12 at 6:41 PM

Kevin Kouzmanoff is the Rangers’ starting third baseman Saturday night for the second consecutive game, and it has been a long time coming.

926 days.

That’s how long Kevin Kouzmanoff waited between major league starts. He waited 924 days between major league at-bats.

That time transpired between the Sept. 28, 2011 season finale when Kouzmanoff started at third for the Colorado Rockies and Friday, when he filled in at the hot corner in Adrian Beltre’s first full game out of the lineup this season.

He enters Saturday's contest on a four-game major league hitting streak that spans 927 days. Kouzmanoff recorded a hit in each of Colorado's final two games in 2011, and in his first two with Texas.

And, even outside of the near-eternity that passed between his big league action, it wasn’t a typical return to the Show for Kouzmanoff.

In the wake of Beltre’s injury Tuesday, the 32-year-old Kouzmanoff flew to Boston Wednesday for a 3:05 p.m. CST first pitch. He was called on to pinch-hit at Fenway Park just hours later, and he laced a single to center field. After a travel day Thursday, Kouzmanoff was penciled in as the starting third baseman and the 926-day wait was over.

And all he did was single in the 12th inning and score the game’s only run.

“Him spending almost two years out of the big leagues and being able to come in and contribute like that says a lot about him as a person,” GM Jon Daniels said.

Kouzmanoff, who wears no. 6 for the Rangers, could’ve had his wait shortened if he made the Opening Day roster. The man whose complicated surname can be simplified to “Kouz” hit .370 in Spring Training, slugging three homers and recording 12 RBI.

“He had a good camp, and you could certainly argue he should have made the team,” Daniels said. “The fact that he handled that news as well as he did is a sign of pretty good character.”

Pretty good character, and a pretty great opportunity to show his value on the field.

Especially with the club “leaning toward” putting Adrian Beltre on the disabled list, Kouz is the starting third baseman. He’s recorded five hits in his last 10 major league ABs, ironically making him one of the hottest hitters on the Rangers.

Daniels said the team looks for players that can handle multiple roles, are team guys, and have a track record at the major league level when evaluating minor league free agents in the spring.

Those qualities are what gave Kouzmanoff a chance with the Rangers, he said.

Kouzmanoff’s return to the Bigs was far from conventional over the past four days, but his immediate impact on the team far from mirrored his delayed arrival.

And his chance to build that track record continues Saturday night, as the starting third baseman.

Just maybe he’ll extend the hitting streak to 928 days.

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