Moreland's bat awakes for Texas Rangers

Posted Sunday, Mar. 11, 2012  comments  Print Reprints
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SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Mitch Moreland is getting a day off today, and it's a well-deserved day off.

Moreland might have been the busiest player at the Texas Rangers' spring training facility on Sunday. He started his day by taking live batting practice against Neftali Feliz. Then, he led off the first four innings in the B game vs. the Kansas City Royals. Finally, he played four innings in the A game vs. the Cleveland Indians.

The long day paid off for Moreland, though. He went a combined 5 for 5 with two doubles, and feels he has finally found his swing. Going into Sunday, Moreland had been 1 for 16 in Cactus League games.

Moreland downplayed two factors that could have played into his slow spring start. He said his right wrist surgery this off-season, which derailed his second-half performance last year, had nothing to do with it.

"Everything is great with the wrist," Moreland said.

Neither did any sort of pressure to re-establish himself within the organization early this spring after the chatter about the Rangers possibly landing free agent first baseman Prince Fielder this winter.

"I really didn't read into that a whole lot," Moreland said. "I just try to go out and play my game. If I do that, it'll take care of itself."

All it took to get Moreland back on track was a little extra work and a few more at-bats. In his first six Cactus League games, he averaged fewer than three at-bats per game.

"I didn't want him to get frustrated because he wasn't getting enough at-bats," manager Ron Washington said. "When you come off what he came off of last year and then come into spring training and are having good BP and can't transfer it into games, it can get in your head. And I didn't want it to get into his head.

"Hopefully we took care of that today. We got his confidence going, and hopefully he can maintain it."

Washington suggested the B game at-bats to Moreland in the morning, and Moreland jumped all over it. As far as the live BP against Feliz beforehand, Moreland wanted to do that himself.

That falls in line with how Moreland has always approached baseball.

"If you keep working, if you keep practicing and sticking with your plan, eventually you'll get there," Moreland said.

In the B game, Moreland quickly showed positive signs. In his first at-bat vs. former All-Star closer Jonathan Broxton, Moreland singled up the middle. He then singled and doubled off current Royals closer Joakim Soria.

In the afternoon A game vs. Cleveland, Moreland shined again. He singled to right in his first at-bat against Kevin Slowey. Then, facing Tony Sipp, Moreland came through with an RBI double that bounced off Indians right fielder Aaron Cunningham's glove.

Moreland has been working to adjust his swing all spring, saying his hands have been "drifting" and not staying back in a hitting position.

"Sometimes bad habits are tough to break," Moreland said. "But I got a feel for it this morning and ran with it. It felt a lot better. I'm really just trying to clean everything up and be ready when April gets here.

"I think I'm heading in the right direction."

Drew Davison, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @drewdavison

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