The 2019 Texas Rangers, for those who need to be reminded, are Elvis Andrus’ team.
The shortstop is the longest tenured Rangers player, entering his 11th season at only age 30, and one of Chris Woodward’s first acts as manager was to hand the leadership reins to Andrus.
He has learned from the best – Adrian Beltre and Michael Young – but will use his own style. He likes to have a good time, but he also knows the difference between work and play time.
Andrus has had his eyes open throughout spring training, watching the newcomers, the young players who aren’t so young anymore and the young players who are still young. He has also gotten a feel for the new coaching staff.
With less than a week to go before the Rangers break camp for the regular season, Andrus can’t seem to find much wrong with how things have gone.
What have you liked most about the offense this spring?
One of the things that has impressed me the most is the growth. I think that everybody, counting veterans and young guys, have a better idea of the type of offense we have.
Even in spring training, we’re finding ways to score regardless of whose pitching, if we’re doing good or facing a tough one. I think that’s something we haven’t done in a while in spring training and is something that is going to help us as an offense.
At the end of last season, you wanted to see the younger players grow up this season. Have you seen that this spring?
I believe so. That’s one of the reason that I feel so confident about this year. I challenged them last year. Everybody is at work right now. They understood what I said.
I wasn’t trying to show up anybody. It is what it is, and we’re here. It’s in our hands right now to keep moving forward. They did a really good job in the off-season to put themselves in the right situation. We all know that spring training is a different mother, but we’re headed the right way.
There are external concerns about the rotation holding up with three pitchers returning from Tommy John. What have you seen from them?
They’re good. I keep praying for their health. I know if they’re healthy, they know how to pitch and they’re going to be good. They know what they’re doing. There’s a lot of experience in that rotation. I like it.
How much have things improved in the clubhouse under new manager Chris Woodward?
I think the chemistry has been nice. That was one of the biggest worries for me, having so many new people on the team, but having Woody makes that transition a lot better and a lot quicker.
That’s why the team seems this relaxed and this positive about this year. In terms of the feel, communication, it’s a big difference. You can see it. Even you guys can feel it. If you guys can see it, believe me, we can see it.
How are you after breaking your arm last season?
The strength is back. I have no concerns about it with anything – offensively, throwing. It feels fine. I have no restrictions. I’m back to normal.
Are you going to be 2017 Elvis?
I believe so. That’s what I trained for, and that’s how I feel right now. I know the body is there. I know the mind is there. I’m just anxious and ready for the season.
You have another chance to opt out of your contract after this season. Should Rangers fans be worried?
I don’t think so, man. It’s hard to think ahead and move ahead of time. But right now I’m here and I’m happy. We’re building something great here. For sure, I would like to stick around.