SURPRISE, Arizona — Ron Washington frequently juggled his batting lineup in 2013, trying to find something that produced more runs.
It didn't work, although it wasn't Washington's fault. He didn't have much to work with, especially after Nelson Cruz was suspended for 50 games at the end of the season.
This year, Wash has the tools, and even though it's only February 19, he has his lineup.
"They're pretty much set," the Rangers' manager said. "I don't intend on changing."
Here's how he sees it:
- Shin Soo Choo
- Elvis Andrus
- Prince Fielder
- Adrian Beltre
- Alex Rios
- Mitch Moreland
After that, he said Giovanni Soto, Jurickson Profar, and Leonys Martin will bat seventh through ninth, although not necessarily in that order.
There was some question about who would bat third and fourth. But Washington said Fielder is "locked in" at the three spot.
"He's always been the protector," said Washington. "I'm going to make him the protectee."
"I've hit third a little bit," said Fielder. "The fact that I'm going to be there and remain there is new. I'm looking forward to it."
Shortstop Elvis Andrus says his approach on the bases will change with Fielder hitting behind him, like it did when Josh Hamilton batted third for the Rangers.
"I didn't even think about stealing a base," said Andrus. "I was just trying to get on base and let him do the rest. You're not that aggressive when you have somebody who can actually drive the ball."
Fielder can drive the ball. Despite a down year in 2013 (25 home runs), Fielder has averaged 35 per year in his eight full seasons with Milwaukee and Detroit.
And Fielder doesn't miss games — just one in the last five seasons. So barring injury, he will be "locked in" the three hole every day in 2014.