Texas Rangers

Rangers' Andrus: 'I thought it was going to be a lot easier than it is'

It hasn't been as easy for Elvis Andrus to regain his timing at the plate as he thought it would be.
It hasn't been as easy for Elvis Andrus to regain his timing at the plate as he thought it would be. mfaulkner@star-telegram.com

The numbers posted by Elvis Andrus in his first six games since coming off the disabled list June 18 were not what he was expecting.

He had managed only three hits ­— two of them infield singles — in 25 at-bats for the Texas Rangers. That came on the heels of a 1 for 24 showing over seven games on a rehab assignment.

Yeesh.

"I thought it was going to be a lot easier than it is," Andrus admitted Tuesday.

But it's getting better, he assured. His timing is getting better. He's not remotely concerned that the ulna bone that was broken April 11 isn't healthy enough for him to perform is duties.

It's just going to take some time.

"I'm feeling better, man," Andrus said. "Every day the timing is feeling better. My feeling for the game is better. It's working hard. I'm watching a lot of videos and working on my swing day in day out trying to get to 100 percent as soon as possible."

The Rangers certainly aren't backing away from Andrus, though he did get a day off Sunday after starting the first five games off the 60-day disabled list. He batted second and started at shortstop Tuesday in the Rangers' 3-2 interleague loss to the San Diego Padres.

Rougned Odor and Robinson Chirinos hit solo home runs off former teammate Tyson Ross, but the Padres rallied for three runs in the eighth against Jake Diekman.

Andrus? Well, he went 1 for 5, singling in the ninth, but he entered the game encouraged by his performance Monday night.

Andrus went 1 for 4 and drove in two runs, the second of which came on a sacrifice fly. That and his fifth-inning RBI single were to right field, and the single was a hard liner that might rate as his hardest-hit ball since before the injury.

"Yesterday was a great game for me," Andrus said. "I was able to drive that ball to right field. I had three or four at-bats where I put a good swing on it. That's what I needed right now. If I keep doing it and keep doing it, everything is going to work out."

Everything else about the way he's playing has been fine, from his fielding to his base running. He dived head-first at home plate in a game last week at Kansas City, and he wasn't been afraid to rub Adrian Beltre's head after his two home runs last week.

The arm, which was fractured just below the elbow when hit by a Keynan Middleton pitch in the ninth inning of a loss to the Los Angeles Angels, is fine. So his Andrus' mind.

"I have no doubts about my arm at this point," he said. "Maybe the first two or three games I was rehabbing. After that I knew it was all good, everything was going to be fine and it was going to get stronger. I don't have any hesitation with my arm.

"It feels strong. I don't feel it's 100 percent strong, but it's in the 80s. The more I play, the stronger is going to get. I'm just trying to be smart going forward."

But why no home runs from the player who hit a career-high 20 of them last season? Or doubles, after logging a career-high 44 in 2018?

It's not a lack of strength. It goes back to getting his swing back in order after missing 59 games in just more than two months.

"As soon as I get my swing and timing, the ball's going to go," he said.

Manager Jeff Banister sees the improvement, too, and understands that Andrus needs time. He went through a full spring training and played only two weeks, then was out 50-plus games but without a spring training before returning.



The pitchers he has been facing haven't been working at the same level as the guys he saw trying to knock the rust off in the Cactus League.

"It's tough," Banister said. "You don't really have a spring training to go back through. You're being thrown back into the fire against guys, they're full throttle. They're right in the middle of the season. They're at the peak of their performance level. That makes it challenging."

The Rangers have benefited from simply having him in the lineup.

It's been said before but is worth repeating: Andrus gives his teammates a lift with the energy he brings to the field each day.

"It's like having a quadruple shot of espresso every day," Banister said. "He is the high-octane energy bunny for us. It's loud and it's fun. It's with a smile and he's not afraid."

Andrus and the Rangers expect his bat to start providing a boost soon.

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