Rangers phenom Jurickson Profar gets first start at third

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Jurickson Profar, who showed off his power with a home run in Sunday’s Futures Game, is sliding from shortstop to third base for the first time as a pro for Double-A Frisco tonight.

It’s a bit curious; not only do the Rangers already have a top-flight third baseman in Adrian Beltre, but they also have an excellent third-base prospect in Mike Olt playing side-by-side with Profar at Frisco.

However, Olt is currently sidelined with a bruised left hand, according to Frisco announcer Alex Vispoli, opening up third for Profar.

It’s not completely new for Profar to be taken off shortstop; he’s also played 12 games at second base this year. The Rangers still aren’t sure how things are going to play out for the long haul, given that they have All-Stars at second base, third base and shortstop. Profar certainly has the glove to stay at short, though he may never be quite as smooth as Elvis Andrus there.

Fortunately, the Rangers aren’t going to be rushed into any decisions. As talented as Profar is — most regard him as the top position prospect in the minors — he’s still not likely to be ready before the second half of 2013 and possibly not until 2014. The Rangers could have a tough call to make then, though. They currently have Andrus under control through 2014, Beltre through 2015 and Ian Kinsler through 2017.

Zack Cozart thinks the way the Rays have been using Sergio Romo is bad for baseball

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The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.

In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.

The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.

Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”

It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.

It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.