A name or two is added to the Texas Rangers’ injury report seemingly every day, but the reason Elvis Andrus missed Thursday’s game ranks among the most odd.
Andrus had what the team called “sensitivity in left arm” after spending a combined nine hours on Tuesday and Wednesday getting a tattoo that covers most of his upper left arm.
“It’s on fire right now,” Andrus said.
Andrus’ new body art is a sophisticated design that features the phrase “In Loving Memory Dad” with a picture of his late father, Emilio Andrus, who died of cancer when Elvis was 7.
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The design also includes a track shoe, basketball and baseball, representing the three sports his father played. Near the bottom is a bear claw. Elvis started a youth league baseball team called the Bears in his native Venezuela, another nod to his late father, who was known as “Papa Bear.”
Andrus remembers his dad every time he steps on the field, too, by writing the first two letters of his dad’s first and last name in the dirt, “EMAN.”
“That’s what he’d write on his books,” Andrus said. “So that’s what I write on the field.
“This tattoo is like a collage of my dad. I’m not a big fan of tattoos, but that’s always something I’ve wanted to put on, and I’ve been looking the last five, six years and found a guy to do it. I’m really proud of it, because it’s going to be on myself forever.”
Andrus has consulted the past few years with teammates who have several tattoos. He talked with Andruw Jones in 2009 and Mike Napoli last year, and found an artist from Dallas who flew into the Phoenix area to do it this week.
It was Andrus’ first tattoo and he said it’d be his last.
“I’m done with this,” he said. “Too much pain.”
Manager Ron Washington didn’t see the intricate details of Andrus’ tattoo, but said: “It’s big.”
Washington is pleased that Andrus decided to have the tattoo done during spring training rather than the season. After all, Washington didn’t know tattoos could lead to players missing time but wasn’t concerned about Andrus missing a game in spring training.
“Elvis has been working hard and having another day is not going to hurt him,” Washington said.
Andrus is expected to play Friday and Saturday before leaving to join the Venezuelan team in the World Baseball Classic.
Outside of the buzz centered on his tattoo, the 24-year-old Andrus has become a staple for the Rangers. He’s going into his fifth season and has established himself as one of the top shortstops in the game.
Andrus has increased his batting average, games played and RBIs the past three seasons. He had his best season to date last year, batting .286 with 85 runs, 62 RBIs and a .349 on-base percentage.
Defensively, Andrus cut his error total from 25 in 2011 to 16 last season when he was a finalist for a Gold Glove.
“He’s arrived,” Washington said. “He’s getting better in all phases of his game. He knows what he’s capable of doing and he’s going about his business accordingly.”
His teammates have seen him develop from a 20-year-old big leaguer in 2009 to an All-Star level player, as well.
“He’s more mature,” outfielder Nelson Cruz said. “He brings a lot to the game, a lot of energy. Every year he improves and he can make every play look easier than the normal shortstop.”
As far as being inspired by Andrus’ tattoo to get one of his own, Cruz chuckled and said: “No thanks.”