Nelson Cruz' Departure = the Arrival of the Rangers' Future

First line of my Observer column from May 19:

He'll be here before you know it. Sooner than we all expected.

He is Leonys Martin. And the future of Texas Rangers' center field is now.

Trying to remain calm. And I know Martin -- though he'll take the Rangers' roster spot of Nelson Cruz -- won't see too much action. Maybe a late-game defensive replacement, pinch-runner or spot start here or there.

But I'm envisioning a Rangers' outfield of Josh Hamilton in left, Martin in center and Cruz in right. and I see August pennant chases for years to come.

With Cruz on the disabled list, out three weeks with yet another strained hamstring, Martin will get called up from AAA Round Rock and the Rangers will entertain a waiver trade for a veteran bat such as Lance Berkman.

Don't count on Berkman.

He's having a great year in St. Louis and it has nothing to do with him predicting back in January the Rangers would be "average" without Cliff Lee. It has to do with the fact that he'll cost Texas a prospect for a rental and, if the deal isn't done by 11 Wednesday night, he can't appear on the post-season roster.

Much more excited about Martin, the 23-year-old Cuban with the five-tool fanny pack.

Said GM Jon Daniels on Monday: "We feel Leonys has the ability to fill a role, but let's see how it plays out. He's talented, though not a finished product, and the time up here can only help."

At AAA Martin has hit .263 with no homers and 17 RBIs in 40 games after tearing it up at AA Frisco last spring.

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