The pregame routine might not be the same for Elvis Andrus on Monday as it was before Opening Day last year, but nothing will be new about his spot in the Texas Rangers’ lineup.
The two-time All-Star will bat second and, more importantly, be at shortstop when the Rangers take on Philadelphia at Globe Life Park. His elbow was given a clean bill of health and he returned to the field Friday in the first of two games this weekend at the Alamodome, a 6-5 loss to Houston.
But before he hit the field for batting practice, he received treatment on his arm and went through a series of band exercises to help strengthen his elbow and shoulder. That’s something he will do each day to ensure his health.
In a week that included the Rangers losing the Opening Day second baseman, catcher and pitcher to injury, they were breathing a sigh of relief about Andrus, who put in the work and never doubted that he wouldn’t be ready for the opener.
“I actually feel pretty amazing,” Andrus said. “I haven’t felt this well and this strong in a little while. I’m going to start playing every day and try to get my shoulder and elbow used to playing again.
“In my mind I was always ready for Monday. I didn’t have too much concern about this. I know as soon as I got my elbow strong, I would be able to throw again.”
Andrus played five innings Friday in his first game since March 17, showing off the health of his arm with a strong throw to complete a second-inning double play. He had been on a seven-day throwing program and went through the full battery of throws, including his trademark jump-throws and cutoffs and relays, Friday without issue.
He said there is still some discomfort, but it wasn’t evident Friday.
“Nothing alarming,” first baseman Prince Fielder said. “He looked good.”
Andrus didn’t anticipate any problems getting back in the flow after his extended layoff.
He had continued fielding grounders, hitting and doing his normal conditioning work while limited from throwing, but he had also had enough previous game action in Arizona to not be worried about any rust.
“If I didn’t play any defense at all, it would be different,” he said. “I feel really confident where I am right now. My defense feels good.”
Nor was he worried about having a new double-play partner. He hadn’t worked with Donnie Murphy, acquired Wednesday on a waiver claim, but wasn’t anticipating any issues with any of the infielders who will fill in for Jurickson Profar the next 10 to 12 weeks.
“I know we don’t have too much time to get to know each other,” Andrus said. “But it’s baseball.”
The goal, said Andrus, is to get to the point where he doesn’t have any issues. He is committed to doing the extra work each day that will be required to make sure he adds strength to the elbow.
As of Friday, Andrus was ready to go and on track to be on the field Monday for the opener. The Rangers are breathing a sigh of relief.
“I worked with him, and I trust me and I trust Elvis,” manager Ron Washington said. “We’ve tested his arm. He’s done everything that you will have to do at shortstop. So, he’s ready to go.”