Texas Rangers

Here's why Andrus' early spring arrival is a good thing for Rangers

Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus arrived to spring training on Friday, three days before position players were required to report.
Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus arrived to spring training on Friday, three days before position players were required to report. pmoseley@star-telegram.com

Players in their first big-league spring training camp know the clubhouse ground rules — ears and eyes open, mouth shut, don't be late.

There's wiggle room, of course, except for being late, but the best way for a prospect to make the right impression off the field is to make sure he doesn't do something out of line.

As such, they might come off as uptight or shy.

Then, Elvis Andrus walks into the room, and everyone, not just the kids, perks up.

That was the case Friday, when Andrus arrived for spring training three days before position players must report.

It's like his volume knob broke while blasting on max. His voice is loud. He likes his music loud, and his personality is loud.

But it's not a disruption. It's a tool. It has purpose. It helps makes the Rangers go.

He knows it, too, and it could be a factor when he has to decide if opting out of his contract is the right thing to do.

"I've always been that way," Andrus said. "I feel that energy all that time. That's the way I like it. I know guys like having that energy. Any environment when it's dead, it's not a good feeling to work. I think that one of my jobs. I love to do it."

Andrus isn't the king of the clubhouse, but he's next in line for the throne if he wants to hang around for Adrian Beltre to abdicate it. Andrus can choose to become a free agent after the next two seasons, but he has stated again and again that he wants to retire with the Rangers.

Both would be wise to sit down and hammer out a new deal that would keep the shortstop, not yet 30 despite entering his 10th big-league season, from leaving over what would amount to a few millions bucks a year.

The Rangers keep one of the game's best shortstops the past two seasons in the lineup, and get to keep his emerging leadership qualities. Andrus doesn't have to worry about trying to find his niche elsewhere, though it's hard to imagine Andrus not getting along in a new clubhouse, and he gets to become the face of the franchise and to cement his place as an all-time Rangers great.

Andrus is the longest-tenured Rangers player this season. It's difficult for his teammates to imagine him leaving the organization.

"We're hoping that never happens," first baseman Joey Gallo said.

Not long ago Gallo was one of the young players trying to adhere to the young-player rules. He was walking around on egg shells, until Andrus introduced himself and started yukking it up with him.

"My first camp I was nervous and didn't know very many people," Gallo said. "I go to talk to him and he's goofing around with me, joking around, and I was able to come out of my shell earlier because that was one of the leaders on the team and he was joking around with me."

Those are the players Andrus seeks out each spring.

"They come in here for the first time and it's a lot of pressure," he said. "It's a way for me to show them that it's the same baseball and we're just going to have fun and work hard. I introduce myself. They're new. I think it's my job to make them feel welcome. I want them to feel good and feel like family. That what we are here, a bunch of brothers."

Andrus could be heard shouting and laughing from another room when Delino DeShields tried to explain the impact Andrus' personality has on the team. DeShields said that Andrus, because of his tenure, is one of the faces of the franchise along with Adrian Beltre and Cole Hamels.

Andrus often announces his presence with loud music.

"I walked in yesterday, the music was playing, and I knew, 'Yep, Elvis is here,'" DeShields said. "He just brings out that energy. He's always in a good mood, always smiling. With his baby on the way last year and now that he's here, he's been in a really good mood."

Andrus does occasionally have bad days, fellow Venezuelan Martin Perez said. When he does, the music helps melt the melancholy away. Once Andrus gets going, so does everyone else.

It could be in the clubhouse, on the bus or on the charter flight. A shot of Andrus-Hour Energy gets things hopping.

"He does it with such a gregarious, outgoing personality that it's infectious and fun," manager Jeff Banister said. "I didn't get to see him yesterday, but I knew he was there. The residual effect out on the field, you could see it in the position players are here and in the attitude and energy of the pitchers. It's always great when you have a player like that."