Ian Kinsler enjoyed a fine rookie campaign with the Rangers in 2006. The 24-year-old second baseman batted .286 with 14 home runs, 55 RBIs and 11 stolen bases despite missing a month and a half with a dislocated left thumb and having never played a game at the big-league level entering the season. Kinsler recently answered some questions for MLBPLAYERS.com:
MLBPLAYERS.com: What did you think when you heard the news last winter that the Rangers had traded Alfonso Soriano?
Kinsler: I was excited at first, but I knew there some other guys coming to camp who could win the position at second. It was just exciting to me that I was going to have the opportunity.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Considering the fact that you entered the year with no experience at the Major League level, are you surprised by the success you enjoyed in 2006?
Kinsler: Honestly, I didn't have any expectations. Because I didn't get called up last year, it was really just my first experience. I did not know what it was going to be like. You just hear other guys talk about it. I'm definitely happy with the way the season went. I would have liked for the team to have had a few more wins, but I am happy personally.
MLBPLAYERS.com: You went to three different colleges in three years. Was that your plan originally?
Kinsler: It was definitely a unique experience. I started out at junior college, as I wasn't really recruited out of high school to go to any Division I colleges. The second year I did go to ASU [Arizona State University], but that was tough for me. I didn't play that well and sort of sat on the bench there. Once I went to the University of Missouri, it was a perfect fit for me. I had a great year and got drafted, which made me really happy.
MLBPLAYERS.com: You played a lot of shortstop at Missouri. How did you ultimately move to second base?
Kinsler: I played short throughout the Minors up until last season. The Rangers just moved me, and I accepted it.
MLBPLAYERS.com: As a second baseman, could you have a better middle infielder than Michael Young to help show you the way?
Kinsler: It is something. But really it's the whole infield. I have Mark Teixeira next to me at first, Mike Young playing next to me, helping me turn double plays, and Hank Blalock at third. They've been to All-Star Games. It was a great way to come into the big leagues.
MLBPLAYERS.com: In the Minors, you totaled 53 stolen bases from 2003-05. Do you believe you'll experience similar success on the basepaths in the Majors?
Kinsler: Absolutely. It is something I want to start putting back into my game. It didn't happen a lot this past season, but I will still work hard on it this offseason and hope for those opportunities next year.
MLBPLAYERS.com: You're originally from Arizona (Canyon del Oro High School). Did you follow the Diamondbacks as a teenager?
Kinsler: A little bit. I started out as a New York Mets fan. My dad grew up in New York, and he was a Yankees fan. I kind of did that to have a little controversy in the house. I followed the Diamondbacks a bit, but I was about 15 when they started up. I didn't know whether I was a so-called "sellout" or not, but the World Series made that a little easier. It was very exciting for the area then.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Buck Showalter had you hitting in different spots in the lineup this past season. Did you mind that?
Kinsler: I go and hit wherever they tell me to. He tended to change the lineup around a lot. It keeps you on your toes, so you have to be ready that day for wherever you're put.
MLBPLAYERS.com: You mentioned the World Series earlier. How fortunate did you feel to be in the middle of a pennant race in your first big-league season?
Kinsler: It was an exciting time. It was definitely a great way to break into the big leagues. I like the pressure that comes along with it. I have gotten to see first hand what it's all about.
MLBPLAYERS.com: The Rangers played Arizona this year at home. Would a trip to Phoenix and the chance to play there be a great honor for you and your family?
Kinsler: It would be awesome. I watched some games there, and to get that opportunity would be pretty sweet.
MLBPLAYERS.com: How much of a plus is it that the Rangers train in Arizona in the spring?
Kinsler: That is the best part about Spring Training for me. It's home. I'm from Tucson, and we don't train that far away. It is nice to stay home in the spring.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.