The last time Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland saw a live pitch in a real game was June 7, his last appearance before suffering an ankle injury that required reconstruction surgery.
So his spring debut Sunday at Sloan Park against the Cubs came with a lot of pent-up emotions.
“I’ve been counting down the days anticipating getting out there and playing,” Moreland said. “I wanted to go out there and have fun and I did. I had a blast out there today. Felt great.”
Especially gratifying for Moreland was the opposite-field home run on a 3-2 pitch in his first at-bat. Nearly a year’s worth of angst smoked into the berm.
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“It’s a great way to start the spring,” he said. “[I was] trying to get a good pitch, work the at-bat. I was definitely excited.”
Moreland has taken it slow this spring to make sure his ankle is ready to take the abuse of a regular season.
“Yeah, [I’m 100 percent]. I’m feeling good. I’m ready to go. No issues at all,” he said.
The acquisition of right-hander Ross Ohlendorf in January is suddenly looking like a genius move for the Rangers.
Manager Jeff Banister and pitching coach Mike Maddux chose to travel to Mesa to watch Ohlendorf, along with others including Moreland, who they hadn’t seen play this spring.
They came away impressed with Ohlendorf, an Austin St. Stephen’s grad who signed a minor league deal. He struck out five consecutive batters and held the Cubs hitless in two innings, using a four-seam fastball that hovered in the mid-90s and an effective slider in the low 80s.
“I noticed that they were,” Ohlendorf said. “We only have so many opportunities to show them what we can do so I’m glad I was able to take advantage today.”
Elvis Andrus also made his spring debut on Sunday.
He singled twice with an RBI in the Rangers’ walk-off win over the Indians in Surprise. He also converted two double plays.
Stefan Stevenson, 817-390-7760