Elvis Andrus is ready to test his body in game action this spring and is scheduled to be in the Rangers’ lineup Saturday against the White Sox.
Andrus will bat second and play shortstop for several innings, his first game action this spring.
Andrus had surgery on Nov. 1 to repair a sports hernia. He played much of the 2016 season, his best in the majors, with the injury.
[Batting] position, for me, doesn’t matter any more. I try to have the same mentality, every at-bat is different. When you see it that way you just make everything easier.
Rangers SS Elvis Andrus
“I’m pretty close. That’s why I want to play so bad because I want to test it,” said Andrus, who has taken it slow to give his legs and groin area a chance to build up strength. “I’ve tested it in practice and it feels great. I want to see it in game intensity and after that I’ll be ready to go.”
Andrus had career-highs in batting average (.302), RBIs (69), on-base percentage (.362), slugging percentage (.439) and OPS (.800) in 2016 batting primarily in the bottom third of the lineup. He hit in the seventh spot 68 times, the eighth spot 35 times and ninth 26 times. He also hit sixth 15 times and second twice.
Manager Jeff Banister said he’ll let Andrus dictate the speed of which he prepares for Opening Day.
129 Games Elvis Andrus hit in the seventh, eighth or ninth spot in the Rangers’ batting order in 2016.
“We’ll go at any rate he’s able to go,” Banister said. “He’s been getting a pretty extensive workload on the backfields. We look to him to be a significant player on our team, we need for him to be.”
Andrus, 28, said his spot in the batting order no longer concerns him.
“[Batting] position, for me, doesn’t matter any more. I try to have the same mentality, every at-bat is different,” he said. “When you see it that way you just make everything easier. I don’t take anything hard against me in terms of where I hit. Had a lot of chances to bring in a lot of runs last year and I concentrated on that.”
Maturity and experience, Andrus said, has made him a better player.
“I feel like I’m getting to a point in my career where I’ve started realizing a lot of things and what I’m able to do on the field,” he said. “My mind and my body [are] in a better place than I was last year and that’s really exciting for me.”
Technically, he said, simplifying his hitting approach helped him improve at the plate. “I opened the field again and hit the ball everywhere in the park, it kind of helped me with everything, seeing better pitches, getting on base a lot more,” he said. “Help the team create opportunities every single inning. That’s what I want to do this year. I’ve been hitting everywhere, from the top to the bottom. I’m only hitting at the bottom when the game starts.”