Kinsler, Andrus continue to provide the Rangers’ 1-2 punch

Posted Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
A
12B Ian Kinsler Followed his second career 30-30 season by hitting only 19 homers and stealing 21 bases in 2012. His on-base percentage fell from .355 to .326. 2SS Elvis Andrus Hit a career-best .286 in 2012 but was only 21 of 31 on the bases. His on-base percentage was .349, up from .347 in 2011.

Have more to add? News tip? Tell us

The first two batters for the home team Tuesday afternoon were no different than the first two hitters manager Ron Washington has penciled into his lineup card each of the past two seasons.

In Ian Kinsler’s case, he has batted first for three of the past four years, and Elvis Andrus has stuck in the No. 2 hole after leading off much of the 2010 season.

Those two won’t be going anywhere this season, Washington said ahead of the first intrasquad game of spring training.

The duo remains the best combination the Rangers have to kick-start the offense even after a sluggish 2012 season for Kinsler. But the expectation, beginning with the players themselves and their manager, is that Kinsler and Andrus will ignite the offense and wreak havoc on the bases.

“We set the table,” said Andrus, the starting shortstop. “You can see a difference every time me and Ian are on base. We put pressure on the pitchers. We put pressure on the defense. And that’s what the power guys are looking for.”

Kinsler can start a game as easily with a home run as he can a walk. Andrus’ role isn’t the most glamorous as oftentimes he gives himself up at the plate to move Kinsler 90 feet closer to a run.

If that’s what it takes, that’s what he will do.

Kinsler doesn’t need any reminders that his 2012 season didn’t meet his standards. He followed up his second career 30-30 season by hitting only 19 homers and stealing 21 bases. His on-base percentage fell from .355 to .326.

But he had an off-season that he hadn’t experienced since 2010, one where he was free of pain from a lingering ankle injury. He’s leaner, stronger and motivated to return to the form that made him one of the best second basemen in the game.

Kinsler isn’t doing anything differently this spring. Just being healthy will take him out of the funk he fell into last season. He said he started “cheating” to compensate for his lack of speed and wasn’t a good enough “cheater” at times.

“Once you start to feel like you have to cheat, that feeling never goes away,” Kinsler said. “I didn’t feel like I was strong enough or fast enough to steal a base the way I wanted to steal it. This year is a fresh start.”

He understands the argument that he’s not a prototypical leadoff hitter, a wiry speedster with little power, and might be better suited for a spot in the lineup where he could drive in more runs.

Not on this team, though.

“That’s the best spot for me in this lineup,” Kinsler said. “Every year you want to progress, and I think I’ve gotten better.”

The Rangers are at their best offensively when they are aggressive on the bases, and it starts with Kinsler and Andrus. That doesn’t mean they are going to be running wild this year.

They have learned from a tough 2012 season in which teams altered their looks and timing to the plate to slow the Rangers down. Kinsler and Andrus combined for 42 steals, down from 67 in 2011, and they were caught 19 times.

Andrus said that the key is to be aggressive but to have better awareness on the bases.

“If the pitchers are doing too much, we’re going to shut it down and let the hitters hit,” said Andrus, who hit a career-best .286 last season.

But Washington doesn’t want to rob his table-setters of their aggression, and he has informed them and the rest of the team that the base-running shackles are off.

Washington knows that Kinsler and Andrus make the Rangers go. They know it, too.

“I tend to hit balls in the gaps more often, and he’s a bat-handler who can move me around the bases pretty easily,” Kinsler said. “It works out pretty well.”

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @JeffWilson_FWST

Looking for comments?

We welcome your comments on this story, but please be civil. Do not use profanity, hate speech, threats, personal abuse, images, internet links or any device to draw undue attention. Our policy requires those wishing to post here to use their real identity.

Our commenting policy | Facebook commenting FAQ | Why Facebook?





Thursday, August 21Full Scoreboard
Houston0Final | Box
NY Yankees «3
Cleveland1Final | Box
Minnesota «4
Detroit0Final | Box
Tampa Bay «1
Arizona0Top 5th | Box
Washington0@theBallpark | TV: FSN-AZ, MASN
San Francisco0Delayed | Box
Chicago Cubs2@theBallpark | TV: CSN-BA, CSN-CHI
LA Angels 8/21 7:10 PM ET
Boston TV: MLB Net, FSN-W, NESN
Atlanta 8/21 7:10 PM ET
Cincinnati TV: MLB Net, SPSO, FSN-OH
San Francisco 8/21 8:05 PM ET
Chicago Cubs TV: CSN-BA, CSN-CHI
San Diego 8/21 10:10 PM ET
Los Angeles TV: FSN-SD, SportsNet LA
Full Scoreboard
Thursday, August 21Full Scoreboard
No games today
Full Scoreboard
Week 4Full Scoreboard
Thursday
Pittsburgh 7:30 PM ET
Philadelphia TV: NFL Network, KDKA, 6ABC
Friday
Jacksonville 7:30 PM ET
Detroit TV: WXYZ7
Carolina 7:30 PM ET
New England TV: Panthers TV, WBZ
NY Giants 7:30 PM ET
NY Jets TV: CBS 2
Oakland 8:00 PM ET
Green Bay TV: CBS
Chicago 10:00 PM ET
Seattle TV: NFL Net, FOX32, Q13FOX
Saturday
Tampa Bay 4:30 PM ET
Buffalo TV: NFL Network, WFLA
Tennessee 7:00 PM ET
Atlanta TV: WKRN, CW69
Dallas 7:00 PM ET
Miami TV: KTVT, CBS11, CBS4
Washington 7:30 PM ET
Baltimore TV: NBC4, CSN-DC, WBAL
St. Louis 8:00 PM ET
Cleveland TV: WKYC
New Orleans 8:00 PM ET
Indianapolis TV: CBS
Minnesota 8:00 PM ET
Kansas City TV: KARE 11, KCTV
Houston 9:00 PM ET
Denver TV: KTRK, KUSA
Sunday
San Diego 4:00 PM ET
San Francisco TV: FOX
Cincinnati 8:00 PM ET
Arizona TV: NBC
Full Scoreboard
Thursday, August 21Full Scoreboard
No games today
Full Scoreboard