Programming note: For all the day’s sports news, tune in to SportsNet Central tonight and every night at 6, 10:30 p.m. and midnight on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
OAKLAND – Former A’s third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff has made quite the career comeback, and he currently finds himself playing a key role for the Texas Rangers with cleanup hitter Adrian Beltre sidelined by injury.
Kouzmanoff was named American League Player of the Week on Monday after hitting .345 with two home runs and a league-best eight RBI and 20 total bases for the week ending April 20. It’s quite a story for a player had fallen off the major league map, as Kouzmanoff spent the past two full seasons toiling in the minors.
[RELATED: Cespedes out of lineup with bruised heel]
“It feels good to be back, it’s been a while,” said Kouzmanoff, who is batting fifth in Monday’s series opener against the A’s. “But it’s been a good week, not just for me personally, but for the team.”
The A’s acquired Kouzmanoff from San Diego before the 2010 season, but during his 1½-year stint in green and gold, he hit just .242 with a combined 20 homers and 88 RBI over 189 games. Oakland sent him to Colorado as part of a conditional trade in August 2011, and he spent all of 2012 and 2013 playing in Double-A and Triple-A while with the Royals’ and Marlins’ organizations.
He signed as a minor league free agent with Texas this past offseason but didn’t make the club despite a strong spring. When Beltre, the Rangers’ four-time Gold Glove third baseman, went on the D.L. with a strained left quadriceps, Kouzmanoff had his contract purchased and he’s filled in more than capably at third. He’s made teams pay for pitching around Prince Fielder to get to him.
When Kouzmanoff played against Boston on April 9, it marked his first big league game since Sept. 28, 2011 while with Colorado.
“He’s been a godsend, to take over for Beltre and perform like he has,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “He’s a pro.”