Rangers lefty Saunders returns to familiar place but unfamiliar faces

Posted Wednesday, Jun. 18, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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The Joe Saunders Reunion Tour makes its next stop Friday at Anaheim, where he began his career and was an All-Star in 2008.

There’s just one problem.

“I really don’t know anybody who’s left,” said Saunders, who faced his 2013 club Saturday at Seattle.

He played with four current Angels — right-handers Jered Weaver and Kevin Jepsen and infielders Erick Abyar and Howie Kendrick. But Saunders knows what the Angels have in the lineup having faced them last season with Seattle.

The key to retiring Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton, among others, during the three-game series at Angel Stadium is getting ahead in the count.

“The challenge is strike 1,” Saunders said. “That’s the goal. Throw strike 1, get ahead of them, put them on the defense. Controlling the count is going to be big for me and getting early outs.”

The Rangers have won seven of the past eight games against the Angels and are 17-5 since the start of last season. But the Angels are more healthy than in 2013 and have pitched better.

“They were always tough, as far I am concerned,” manager Ron Washington said.

Moreland surgery set

First baseman Mitch Moreland will have a left ankle reconstruction Monday in Charlotte, N.C., and is expected to be at full strength for the beginning of spring training next year.

The plan is for specialist Dr. Robert Anderson to perform the procedure, and Moreland to stay in North Carolina for a few days before heading home.

General manager Jon Daniels said that Moreland has theorized that the injured ankle has contributed to other leg issues he has had in past seasons. Moreland suffered a hamstring injury in 2012, and has also dealt with back issues this year.

“He’s hopeful that this will maybe put an end to the lower-body issues he’s had,” Daniels said.

Moreland will be entering his second year of salary arbitration, but has never been as consistent at the plate as was hoped when he made his big league debut in 2010. Daniels said it’s too early to talk about Moreland’s status going forward.

“We’re really just focused on getting him healthy right now,” Daniels said.

Sardinas at third

Adrian Beltre finally relented Wednesday and took a day at designated hitter to help give his legs a two-day break when including the off day Thursday.

That decision gave rookie infielder Luis Sardinas his first career start at third base. A shortstop by trade, Sardinas had played most of his games at second base and only two innings at third.

“When I was little I played third base, and in Detroit I played two innings,” he said. “It’s different angles, and there’s a lot more reaction.”

Washington, though, felt comfortable sending Sardinas to third after watching the work he has done during batting practice.

“He can handle the position and catch the ball and throw across the infield,” Washington said. “This is a planned game for Sardinas.”

Briefly

• Left-hander Derek Holland threw live batting practice at extended spring training a day after a round of pitchers’ fielding practice. “He definitely looked better,” said Daniels, who watched video of the session. “It wasn’t 100 percent. You can notice he still favors it, but it’s a lot better than 10 days ago.”

• Right-hander Yu Darvish remains the Rangers’ scheduled starter Sunday after exiting his labor-intensive five-plus innings Tuesday with no issues. Colby Lewis will start Tuesday in the opener of a six-game homestand.

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

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