Texas Rangers: Shortstop

What does Elvis Andrus deal mean for Profar, others?

April, 1, 2013
4/01/13
9:41
AM CT
Elvis Andrus isn't leaving the Texas Rangers at all after agreeing to a contract extension, per ESPN's Jerry Crasnick, that could keep the shortstop in a Rangers uniform until he's in his mid-30s (though there could be opt-outs that could alter that).

PODCAST
Ian Fitzsimmons and Richard Durrett discuss Elvis Andrus' contract extension with the Rangers and the options the club has with Ian Kinsler and Jurickson Profar.

Listen Listen
Still, rather than watch Andrus take offers on the open market after the 2014 season, the Rangers were able to lock him up as a member of their core long-term. Andrus deserves a bunch of credit, too. We've seen plenty of Scott Boras clients test the open market. Andrus wanted a fair deal, but he also wanted to stay. So it works for both parties. The Rangers, who have taken the "wait-and-see approach," as C.J. Wilson referred to it last week, on certain players, didn't do that with Andrus. Good for them.

So what does it mean for Jurickson Profar and the infield situation? Well, it increases the club's options. Now that Andrus is signed up for the long haul, the team can consider dealing Profar for a big-time player -- think Giancarlo Stanton or David Price, for example -- without the worry that they might not have a shortstop if they do. Profar is a valuable asset, considered by many to be the top prospect in the game. If you trade him, it has to be for something big. Perhaps that's at the trade deadline or next winter.

The Rangers could, of course, keep Profar in the organization. They could consider moving Ian Kinsler to the outfield or first base (if Mitch Moreland struggles) and put Profar at second base. Maybe that's some point this season or more likely after this season. But it would put Profar in the infield and allow him to grow and see what he can do.

Could they trade Kinsler? They could, though they made a sizable financial commitment to Kinsler last season and see him as a member of the core. After this season, my bet is Kinsler would be willing to move and with an offseason to work on the outfield, it might make more sense.

I like this move. Andrus has been steadily getting better each season, becoming a top-tier shortstop. He has started four seasons and in that time, has played in at least 145 games each season. Last year, he played a career-high 158 and hit .286 with three homers and 62 RBIs. His stolen bases dropped last season to 21, but he had 32 or more stolen bases in the three previous seasons. His defense has improved on the routine plays. He could always throw a highlight-reel gem at you, but sometimes his focus wasn't there on the easier plays. That focus was there last year. He's 24 years old and has a bright future. Now he's a Ranger for a long time.

Surprise positional outlook: Shortstop

January, 27, 2012
1/27/12
12:01
AM CT
We've looked at catcher, first base, second base and third base so far this week. We'll finish things off in the infield with shortstop. (We'll continue our previews next week, of course.)

Today's position: Shortstop

[+] EnlargeElvis Andrus
John Rivera/Icon SMElvis Andrus has the ability to make plays other shortstops can't, but errors on routine plays have been a problem.
It doesn't seem like a long time ago that Michael Young was asked to move from shortstop to third base (right after winning a Gold Glove) so that a young, promising prospect could start at one of the most important positions on the field.

That was actually prior to the 2009 season. And the Rangers' logic made sense. They said then that they felt the competitive window for Texas was going to really start opening up in 2010 (most thought 2011 would be a year the club could contend for the World Series, so the team was a bit ahead of schedule by some estimates) and they wanted Andrus to have a season under his belt before then. So despite never playing in Triple-A, Andrus was promoted to the big leagues and handed the role of starting shortstop.

RANGERS POSITION OUTLOOK
Jan. 23: Catcher
Jan. 24: First base
Jan. 25: Second base
Jan. 26: Third base
Jan. 27: Shortstop
Jan. 30: Left field
Jan. 31: Center field
Feb. 1: Right field
Feb. 2: DH/Utility
Feb. 3: Bench
Feb. 6: No. 1 starter
Feb. 7: No. 2 starter
Feb. 8: No. 3 starter
Feb. 9: No. 4 starter
Feb. 10: No. 5 starter
Feb. 13: Middle/long relief
Feb. 14: Late-inning relief
Feb. 15: Coaches
Feb. 16: Manager
Feb. 17: Front office
He was nearly the rookie of the year in 2009 (finishing second to Oakland's Andrew Bailey). He stole 33 bases, made highlight-reel plays at short and managed to hit .267 with 40 RBIs in 145 games. He led all rookies in games played, hits, runs, total bases, triples and stolen bases. In other words: Andrus exceeded expectations.

He had 22 errors that first season and one focus was cleaning up the mental mistakes on easier plays. Andrus could make the impossible look easy, but at times would make the easy look impossible. Many of those errors were bad throws. He dropped the total to 16 in 2010 but saw it rise to 25. Errors aren't the only way to measure fielding and can certainly be misleading, but the bottom line is a player of Andrus' caliber shouldn't have that many errors in the field. The only player with more errors in 2011 was Orioles 1B/3B Mark Reynolds. In fairness, it should be pointed out that Andrus' range means he gets to balls that others can't, meaning those balls can turn into errors while for other shortstops they are just hits. But Andrus knows that part of his game must improve.

Andrus played well in August, batting over .300, and it appeared he was ready to go into the postseason on a roll. But the 23-year-old hit just .235 in the 2011 playoffs with one stolen base, one RBI and 10 runs scored. He did save his best play for the World Series, with multi-hit games in Games 3, 4 and 6. But he had seven strikeouts to one walk and overall in the postseason wasn't on base as much as he would like.

Still, Andrus is a big spark plug in the lineup. Manager Ron Washington has insisted on batting him second in large part because the Ian Kinsler-Andrus combination puts a ton of pressure on the opponent right away, having to get a couple of speed guys out. But Andrus can also bunt, move runners over and make contact. That allows Washington many options after Kinsler gets on base.

Andrus has plenty of skill and should continue to improve. He enters a new part of his major league service time now, becoming an arbitration-eligible player for the first time this offseason. But sides have exchanged figures (they are not quite $1 million apart) and hope to come to an agreement to avoid a hearing. It means that Andrus can be a free agent after the 2014 season. Scott Boras is Andrus' agent, BTW.

But the Rangers head into 2012 with a shortstop who now has three years of experience and is focused on improving.

Playoff position breakdown: SS

September, 27, 2011
9/27/11
11:00
AM CT
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- There was a time this season when focus was a problem for Elvis Andrus. Maybe he was tired. Maybe he was trying to do too much. But he was in a rut.

That's where manager Ron Washington comes in. He's given him time off when needed (like recently when he felt Andrus' situational hitting wasn't as good as it has been) and Andrus is beginning to better understand how to use those days off wisely.

[+] EnlargeElvis Andrus
Steven Bisig/US PresswireShortstop Elvis Andrus has been a catalyst in the lineup and gives the Rangers a critical offensive dimension.
"It happens in this game," Michael Young said. "He's kept to his routine, he's focused and he's got some more experience."

Andrus, 23, has not had an error in his last 31 games (going into Tuesday's game). That's progress for a guy that has 25 errors, the most by a Ranger since 3B Mike Lamb had 33 in 2000 and the most by a shortstop since Royce Clayton also had 25 in 1999.

"I've found my rhythm out there," Andrus said late last week. "I didn't have it earlier. When I'm in that rhythm, I keep things simple. I grab a ground ball and throw it. I'm not trying to get to everything to me. I just want to make the plays that are there."

That simple approach is working. He's also taken it to the plate this season. Andrus came to spring training focused on driving the ball more. He had 15 doubles, 3 triples and no home runs in 2010 with a .265 average.

This season, Andrus has 26 doubles, 3 triples and 5 home runs. And he's batting around .280.

"I'm going to all fields," Andrus said. "I think I've had more situations to drive balls too. I'm not batting leadoff anymore. Ian gets to second so much on his own that I'll be there with a chance to drive him in."

Andrus has 60 RBIs. He had 75 in the previous two seasons combined.

"I'm not a home run hitter, but I can catch one," Andrus said. "But I'm not trying to do that. If I drive a ball to the gap, that's what I want to do. Sometimes I end up pulling one and it goes out."

Andrus provides manager Ron Washington an important piece in his lineup. He's got confidence that Andrus can move runners over with a bunt, usually stay out of double plays with his speed and has the ability to situationally hit consistently. That's why Washington has left Andrus at the No. 2 spot, just behind Ian Kinsler. The teammates have made life difficult on opposing defenses and pitchers with their versatility and speed.

We saw Washington utilize that speed in a very aggressive way against Tampa in the ALDS in 2010. That's continued this season with the Rangers taking an extra base when they get any opportunity. Andrus, like Kinsler, is a catalyst in the lineup and gives the club a critical offensive dimension. Add in his defense, which has improved as the season has gone along, and you've got a valuable player.

Elvis Andrus soaring in September

September, 15, 2011
9/15/11
8:00
AM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas – After stinking it up last September, Elvis Andrus is finishing this regular season strong.

In fact, Andrus’ numbers so far this month are his best of the season. He’s hitting .333 with a .473 on-base percentage and .511 slugging percentage in 12 September games, driving in eight runs and scoring 15 in that span.

Compare that to his stats from last September: .184/.253/.195 with 13 runs and only two RBIs in twice as many at-bats as he’s had so far this month.

Andrus responded to a few days of post-clinching rest with a strong postseason last year, but the Rangers need him now to fight off the Angels for the AL West title. And he’s delivering.

“I started understanding my body,” Andrus said, explaining why he feels so strong this late in the season. “The last year, I really learned how to adapt my body for the whole season.”

That’s meant some pretty simple changes, such as making sure he gets enough sleep, drinks enough water and eats breakfast every day. As a result, he’s been able to keep his weight and energy up.

And Andrus admits that he’s much tougher mentally now than a year ago. That, in the opinion of manager Ron Washington, is the primary reason for his spectacular September.

“He knows now that fatigue can’t come into play,” Washington said. “He was dead tired in September last year, and he learned that it’s mind over matter. My mind, and fatigue don’t matter. He’s grown.”

Elvis Andrus rested, ready for second half

July, 16, 2011
7/16/11
8:00
AM CT
SEATTLE -- Elvis Andrus got mentally and physically tired in 2010. And manager Ron Washington still hasn't forgotten it.

It's why the skipper has insisted that Andrus take more days off so far this season, with the hope that he'll have more energy down the stretch. Andrus hit just .247 in the second half of 2010 after batting .280 in the first half. He had a September to forget, hitting below the Mendoza line.

"Personally, I really learned from last year," Andrus said. "I learned how to handle myself and what I need to do to stay fresh. I really appreciate that he's helping me out by giving me the time and in the end, I think we'll see a difference. Last year, it was more mental. It was my first time that I had so many at-bats like that and so much playing time, and after your body gets that tired it comes into your mind. It was fatigue, and that influenced my game."

Andrus is hitting .286 this season and has become one of the club's best baserunners. He has 26 stolen bases and has been caught just four times. But he's also committed a team-high 15 errors, one fewer than he had all of last year. Getting the most out of his at-bats and playing better defense is his focus for the second half.

"I want to keep getting on base for sure," Andrus said. "I don't want to take any at-bat for granted. Last year, I was trying to do different things in the second half like pull more balls and try to hit a homer too often (he didn't end up hitting any). I'm going to stick with my plan this year and stay within my game. If I do that, the stats will be fine.

"I also have to make the routine plays. When I was feeling good last year, it was simple. I'm trying to simplify things now. I'm worried too much about my feet. Just catch the ball and make a good throw. I'm not trying to think. I'm just getting the ball and throwing the ball. I don't care about how it looks, I just want to make the out. I was thinking too much when the ground ball was coming to me."

Washington has vowed to continue to get Andrus days off and let him rest. Just like he's done with most of his players. The manager sees a different in that everyone looks "fresher."

"The benefit is they have a little more energy," Washington said. "Sometimes one day where you don't have to come to the ballpark and figure out how you're going to beat someone, it can let you get energized. I think they've had more days off this year than last year because we weren't as deep as far as extra players go."

Elvis Andrus vows to slide feet first now

July, 6, 2011
7/06/11
11:09
PM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- As Elvis Andrus hustled toward second base on his way to a double in the fifth inning, he heard first-base coach Gary Pettis yell at him to slide feet first.

Andrus didn't process the instructions in time, sliding headfirst and slamming his sore left wrist into the bag. He was slow to get up and athletic trainer Jamie Reed and manager Ron Washington came out to check on him. Andrus stayed in the game and said he was fine afterward. But at that moment, he vowed not to slide headfirst -- at least for now.

"I have to maintain that [sliding feet first]," Andrus said. "It scared me a little bit. Every time I hit the ground, it's going to hurt a little bit."

Andrus had the wrist wrapped with ice after Wednesday's game, one of his best offensive nights of the season. He came into the game hitless in his last 15 at-bats and ended that in the third inning on what was first scored an error on the pitcher on a line drive and later changed to a hit. Andrus added three more hits, including two doubles, to go 4-for-4. That tied a career-high, done six times.

"He was due, too," manager Ron Washington said. "He swung the bat extremely well tonight. When he stays in the middle of the field, he's good and he stayed in the middle of the field tonight and let his hands work. He ended up catching the left-center field gap twice, which is good, and then he stayed up the middle.

"When Elvis stays in the middle of the field, he's dangerous. Just sometimes he goes and is feeling good and tries to do more."

Andrus hurt his left wrist last week on a headfirst slide and said he was going to alter his slides because of it. But his instincts have taken over and he's made some headfirst slides. He's vowed to quit doing that now to guard against further injury to the wrist.

Elvis Andrus finds redemption late

July, 5, 2011
7/05/11
10:45
PM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Elvis Andrus wasn't happy with himself in the fourth inning on Tuesday. With one out and no one on, Nolan Reimold hit a ground ball to short. Andrus gloved it, made a slight double-clutch and threw to first. He watched as Reimold beat the throw out for an infield hit.

Andrus underestimated the speed of Reimold, a mistake he vows he won't make again.

"As an infielder, you never want that to happen," Andrus said. "That is the second time that's happened to me. The first time was Hunter Pence. I knew he was running because Beltre told me yesterday that he can run. But I didn't know how fast he was. He really was running on that ground ball."

Andrus didn't charge the ball, but said it was a hard-hit ball. He just made his regular throw and didn't realize he needed to get rid of it quicker.

"If tomorrow the same thing happens, I have to be quicker," Andrus said. "I knew he was fast. If it happens, I'll charge it. It's like if Ichiro hits a ball, no matter what you have to charge it. And you have to throw it hard."

Andrus said after that happened, he just really wanted Matt Harrison to get through the inning.

"Once he gets three outs, you feel better," Andrus said.

Manager Ron Washington didn't say anything to Andrus in the dugout about the play and said after the game that Reimold deserves credit for running fast down the line. But Washington knew he didn't need to say anything to Andrus. The shortstop knew he should have made the out and found a way to redeem himself a few innings later.

Andrus had two defensive highlights in a critical seventh inning. He made a backhanded stab on a ground ball by Adam Jones to get the lead runner at second. He then turned a nifty double play, leaping over Jones at second base, landing and then throwing to first to get Vladimir Guerrero.

"It was stuck in my glove," Andrus said. "I was going to grab it and throw. But it stayed in there. I had time, so I jumped and then threw it."

Washington frustrated with Andrus' error

July, 3, 2011
7/03/11
11:17
PM CT


ARLINGTON, Texas -- It was Elvis Andrus' error in the eighth inning that bothered manager Ron Washington the most after Sunday's late-inning troubles in a 6-4 loss to the Marlins.

With a runner on third and two outs in the eighth and the Rangers hanging on to a 2-1 lead, Hanley Ramirez hit a chopper over reliever Mark Lowe on the mound. Andrus charged the ball, gloved it, but couldn't transfer it to his hand to get the throw to first base in time to end the inning. It was scored an error and the Marlins tied the game. They would add three more runs that inning.

"This is the big leagues," Washington said. "That’s a chance for a major league shortstop to make and he didn’t make the play. There’s no excuses, he didn’t make the play."

It was Andrus' team-high 16th of the season. That matches Andrus' error total for all of last season. He also has more errors than any other regular shortstop in the AL.

Andrus was not immediately available for comment after the game. It was a tough enough play that the scorer reviewed it but kept it an error.

"I thought it was a really tough play," Michael Young said. "Hanley runs well and I know Elvis is playing deep there with two outs. They are trying to take away a hit. The last thing you expect is a chopper over the pitcher. It was a tough play. It's a tough break. We have a lot of confidence that any time a ball is hit to short, Elvis is going to make the play."

The error kept the inning alive. It was an eighth in which the Rangers used four different pitchers and the Marlins scored four runs. Darren Oliver came in with the score tied and surrendered a double to right that scored two runs. Neftali Feliz arrived in a rare appearance in the eighth inning of a game with his team behind by two runs and allowed a single on an 0-2 pitch to Mike Stanton that put the Marlins up 5-2.

Before Andrus' error, Lowe had a chance to end the inning. With runners on the corners, he faked a throw to third and turned to first. Gaby Sanchez was too far off first, but Lowe hesitated and by the time he threw to first, Sanchez was able to slide back to the bag safely.

"Everytime I do that, I tell myself to expect to make a throw because you never know," Lowe said. "I can't tell you the last time I got somebody on that move. It can still catch you off guard no matter what you try to tell yourself. He was just getting his secondary lead. The ball wasn't firmly in my hand good enough to make a throw."

Lowe admitted he was a little surprised to see him there and hesitated.

"I sat back on the mound and said, 'This is the guy that matters at the plate,'" Lowe said. "I still have to make a pitch."

Lowe said he probably couldn't have gotten to the chopper anyway. His normal delivery is to fall off to the first base side of the mound and that ball was more toward the third base side. Either way, the play started things going in the wrong direction late and the Rangers' bullpen couldn't stop it.

Elvis Andrus (wrist) out through weekend

June, 25, 2011
6/25/11
12:54
PM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Shortstop Elvis Andrus hadn't seen Dr. Keith Meister when he spoke with a few reporters three hours prior to today's game. But he said he could move his left wrist around despite some stiffness and still didn't think it was a serious injury.

"I don't think it will take too long," Andrus said. "Maybe a few days and I'll be ready."

He'll know more after Meister looks at him, but manager Ron Washington said that his starting shortstop won't play the rest of the series. Andres Blanco takes his place.

Andrus injured the wrist sliding headfirst into second base in the fourth inning of Friday's 8-1 win over the Mets. Andrus said he didn't slide headfirst into second until this season, when he felt like he could steal more bases and avoid certain tags better by sliding headfirst.

Washington didn't have any issues with the slide, calling the injury a "freak" one and that the ground just grabbed Andrus' wrist. The shortstop said he might consider sliding first feet into second more because of this. Oddly, he said he's never had any trouble sliding headfirst into third.

For Blanco, it's an opportunity to get at least a few days of regular playing time.

"The preparation is easier because I know when and where I'm going to play," Blanco said.

He hopes some more consistent at-bats will help him at the plate. He's hitting .150 on the season, but has the tough job of getting sporadic at-bats.

"It's a tough job," Washington said. "It's very tough. Someone has to do it. The pitching gets better and you're not seeing any of it. That's not easy."

Elvis Andrus gets message loud & clear

June, 15, 2011
6/15/11
10:30
AM CT
NEW YORK -- Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus was back in the lineup on Tuesday, the first game after he was pulled late in a loss to the Twins by manager Ron Washington.

Washington said publicly that he pulled Andrus because he felt like he wasn't focused on a throw in the eighth inning.

"I did what I felt like I needed to do," Washington said. "He knows I care about him. When I take him out or talk to him, he knows I have his best interests in mind. I just want him to play the way he can play -- all the time."

Andrus said he understood the message.

"After he took me out, he told me that he saw me on the last throw that I made that I was taking it for granted," Andrus said. "I take that as a lesson. I'm still learning everyday."

Andrus said he was mad at himself for a couple of plays he didn't make earlier in the game.

"It was a tight game and I didn't make those plays and help my team like I felt I should have," Andrus said. "It was still mad after that and I didn't let it go. I have to let that go and keep making plays."

A few times in recent years, Washington has talked to Andrus about staying focused and keeping his mental game sharp. This was another opportunity to do that.

"After the game, I started thinking and talked to him and realized it was true that I didn't stay focused," Andrus said. "The season is too long and stuff happens. I learned my lesson and hopefully it won't happen again."

Surprise positional outlook: Shortstop

January, 28, 2011
1/28/11
8:00
AM CT
We finish up the infield with a look at a young player making quite an impact.

Today's position: Shortstop

Everyone associated with the Rangers wondered how Elvis Andrus would respond in 2010 after posting impressive enough numbers in his rookie campaign to earn a runner-up showing in the AL rookie of the year balloting. That 2009 season was proof that the Rangers were right in promoting Andrus to the majors despite never having played in Triple-A. It showed that shifting Michael Young to third base to make room for Andrus made the team better. And maybe the most important part about allowing Andrus to start at short in 2009 was that he'd have a year under his belt for 2010 when the Rangers' front office felt it's truly competitive window was just opening.

[+] EnlargeElvis Andrus
John Rivera/Icon SMElvis Andrus stole 30-plus bases for a second straight season and hit .294 in the playoffs, but his range at shortstop may be his most impressive attribute.
Andrus responded with a solid season. In fact, outside of not hitting a single home run in 2010 (I lost a bet with a buddy on that and still can't believe he didn't hit one ball out of the park), Andrus' numbers between 2010 and 2009 were pretty similar at the plate except for one major category: walks. Andrus had 24 more walks in 2010 (yes, he had a lot more plate appearances, but he still walked on average more frequently). That patience was important in getting Andrus' speed on the bases. He stole over 30 bases for the second straight season.

As for his ability in the field, it's fun to watch. Manager Ron Washington stressed that Andrus needed to continue to focus on the routine plays and limit his mistakes and the youngster improved on that in 2010. He has incredible range at short and has the skill to save runs and take hits away. He's a regular on the Top Plays of the Day on SportsCenter.

In 2010, Andrus began the season as the No. 9 hitter with Julio Borbon getting an oppportunity in the leadoff spot. But that was switched three weeks into the season as Borbon struggled. Andrus stayed there the rest of the season. He had an up-and-down summer, hitting .270 in June, .216 in July, .296 in August and .160 in September. And he had some baserunning issues, something the coaching staff and Andrus worked hard to clean up.

But when it mattered most in the postseason, Andrus was ready. He hit .294 in the playoffs (despite tailing off in the World Series like most of the Rangers offense) with eight stolen bases (in nine attempts), three doubles and four RBIs. Andrus made a memorable sprint home in the first inning of Game 5 in the ALDS. He singled, stole second and then scoured on Josh Hamilton's ground ball, setting the tempo on an aggressive baserunning game for the Rangers that helped them manufacture some runs for Cliff Lee in the victory.

Andrus is only 22 and clearly has a bright future. He understands he still has some maturing to do within the game and he's very coachable. He should only get better and better. The question the Rangers must ponder is when to give him a long-term deal so that he stays at shortstop for the Rangers for a long time.

Will DH ultimately bore Michael Young?

January, 7, 2011
1/07/11
7:30
AM CT
Since it became evident that the Texas Rangers were hot on the free-agent trail of nifty-fielding third baseman Adrian Beltre, and that to make it happen Michael Young would have to agree to move to designated hitter with a fielding role described as a "super" utility player, the thoughts of Lance Berkman kept popping up.

Berkman, a career National League outfielder and first baseman with the Houston Astros, agreed to be traded last season to the New York Yankees. He knew he wouldn't play first base for the Yanks. That is property of Mark Teixeira. Berkman went to the Bronx Bombers to serve solely as DH and perhaps a game here or there at first.

When New York came to town late in the regular season, Berkman -- who is 34, the same age as Young -- talked about what it's like to hit and then not trot out to your position.

"At the time, I had never not played every day and I didn’t realize how much I appreciate being out there and playing defense," Berkman said. "That’s one of the byproducts of this trade is it’s made me realize I love to play defense and play it every day. I knew I liked defense, but to me the game is so much easier from a rhythm standpoint, from a timing standpoint when you know you’re going to be in there and when you get to go out there and play the field."

Pretty strong words.

Ultimately, will DH bore Michael Young? He is in excellent physical condition and could easily be a starting infielder, especially at second base, on most, if not every major-league squad. That's not a disapproval of this trade. Beltre is an absolute upgrade at third base, a position Young had not mastered since his more there two seasons ago. There were times during the postseason when balls that scooted by him had to make the front office wince -- and obviously it did.

The question is whether Young will thrive at the plate as a DH, or could an inconsistent routine on a daily basis in terms of playing in the field and at multiple positions mess with this rhythm, if not his head? Will he grow weary of sitting on the bench for long stretches to the point that it becomes a major aggravation?

Berkman had to do it for less than half a season. It bothered him so much that he vowed to leave the American League. He signed a free-agent contract with the St. Louis Cardinals where he will return to playing the outfield.

It won't be an easy transition for Young. Yes, the club has made assurances that he'll get plenty of time in the field by resting others throughout a long, hot summer. Still, barring a significant injury, Young will see nowhere near the time he's accustomed to as a regular player, and he will bounce around from third, short, second and possibly even first.

And how many games can Young realistically expect to play in the field?

Second baseman Ian Kinsler, 28, is the most injury-prone of the infielders. In his five seasons, he's played more than 130 games once and never more than 144. Kinsler played 103 last season.

Beltre is 31 and had injury issues in 2009, playing 111 games. Otherwise, he's been durable. From 2002-06, he played in at least 156 games. In 2007 he played 149, and in 2008, 143.

Young, who has already been switched from "infielder" to "designated hitter" on the Rangers' roster on the team's website, is the epitome of the everyday player. Since 2002, Young has played in at least 155 of 162 games. The only time he didn't was 2009 when he suffered a late-season injury and played in 135 games.

Add it all up and Young, as disciplined and focused as any player in the league, will have to find ways to occupy his mind during plenty of pine time next season. On Wednesday, he said he was prepared to do just that. Berkman couldn't put up with it. Young, who is adamant about staying with the club, will have to find a way to stay sharp -- and satisfied.

Quick Friday prospect update

April, 16, 2010
4/16/10
8:00
AM CT
This update will run each Monday and Friday morning moving forward. Today we will look at performances from Wednesday and Thursday:

RHP Wilmer Font, Hickory - Font made his second start Thursday and continued to look statistically like a different pitcher from his 2009 version. He went 4.2 innings and allowed seven hits, but his K/BB ratio of 6/1 moved his season total to 14/2. He also continued to induce a high number of outs on the ground, moving his ratio to 2.25 GO/AO for the season. Last year in Hickory those ratios were 105/59 and 0.73 in 108 innings.

LHP Robbie Erlin, Hickory - Erlin relieved Font and completed his second perfect appearance of the season. Erlin's line is now 4.1 IP, 5 K, zero baserunners. Erlin signed as a third round pick last summer just soon enough to squeeze in 4.1 innings in rookie ball. His jump this spring to an opening day full season assignment was swifter than that of most of the club's recent highly drafted arms, but his performance has made the cause for that apparent.

SS Leury Garcia, Hickory - Yet another Hickory returnee, like most of the teenagers who fought through a season of being much younger than their competition in 2009, the 19 year old Garcia looks more comfortable this spring. He's played in seven games, has a hit in six of them and multiple hits in three, and the components of his slash line thus far (.333/.344/.400) are all much higher than last season. "Furcalito" will want to improve his control of the strike zone (1/6 BB/SO), but just the fact that the little defensive wizard isn't having the bat knocked out of his hands makes him an intriguing prospect.

OF Engel Beltre, Bakersfield - Beltre, one of the 2-3 most gifted position players in the system, returned to Bakersfield this spring with a big year in front of him. He's still just 20 years old, quite age appropriate for this level, but his 2009 was possibly the most disappointing of any player in the organization, and he's yet to translate talent into results. This season is very young, but thus far he's laying another egg. His 0-7 composite the past two nights moves his season line to 4-23. He has failed to draw a walk as the Blaze leadoff man and could amazingly come in below his 17 walk total from 2009. Beltre has hitting talent, so the batting average will rise, but the maturity at the plate and power potential are not showing themselves.

OF Craig Gentry, OKC - A minor ding limited Gentry to just one at bat over the first weekend, but he is off to a quick start in his first true taste of the Triple A level. He has hit safely in his last five games, 8-19 overall, and he has homered, tripled and stolen three bases. Now 26, Gentry has moved through the system at a deliberate pace, but his superb defense across the outfield and quality complementary skills will make him a very usable player if he can continue to hit.
Tags:

Shortstop

Rangers acquire middle infielder from Cubs

March, 27, 2010
3/27/10
3:39
PM CT
MARYVALE, Ariz. -- The Rangers have acquired shortstop/second baseman Andre Blanco from the Chicago Cubs for a player to be named later.

Blanco, a switch-hitter from Venezuela, played 40 games at second base and 15 at shortstop for the Cubs in 2009. The switch-hitter batted .252 with 1 home run and 12 RBIs.

Blanco is the third middle infielder the Rangers are traded for this spring, joining Hernan Irribarren, who has since been optioned to Oklahoma City, and Gregorio Petit, brought in from Oakland a couple of days ago. Blanco, however, may be the most serious contender yet with the best chance of unseating Joaquin Arias as the current backup middle infielder.

There's also a chance the Rangers will need two extra middle infielders at the beginning of the season if Ian Kinsler's injury lingers longer than expected.

"(Blanco) gives us another option at utility infielder," assistant general manager Thad Levine said. "He's a gifted defensive shortstop and now we have 7 or 8 days to evaluate him. His (best) tool is his glove."

Blanco's acquisition, however, doesn't mean that the Rangers won't continue to upgrade at the utility infield position.

"It's one area we're trying to address," Levine said. "It's an area where we're still looking."

The Rangers are particularly interested in Arizona's Augie Ojeda but so far have not been able to work out a deal with the Diamondbacks.

Surprise stuff: Joaquin Arias on the bases

March, 23, 2010
3/23/10
11:11
AM CT
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers manager Ron Washington and outfield coach Gary Pettis (who coaches base stealing) have talked to infielder Joaquin Arias the past few days about getting aggressive on the bases.

Arias is a leading internal candidate for the utility infield job. If the club decides to keep that job in-house and it goes to Arias (he can play shortstop and that's a critical component to the job), he would be used in late-inning pinch-running situations. The club wants to be sure Arias has the confidence to perform well in that role, which includes a full understanding of how to run the bases and when to get aggressive.

In Monday's game, Arias tried to get aggressive and was thrown out on a pickoff/caught stealing. It was part of the learning process.

"He had decided that he was going to go on the first move and it just so happened that Barry Zito decided to go over there," Washington said. "We've still got to work on him trying to do it in better counts. The first time Barry went over there he went twice and he should have gone on the third one. If you notice, he had a great lead out there and was diving back in. It's just a matter of Gary getting into his head when to go and when not.

"He ran there, but it was more or less in a hit-and-run count and they can take a chance and throw over there and see if we're doing anything. If he had waited one more pitch, Barry probably would have gone to the plate."

Washington told Arias to take some chances, get aggressive and not worry about making mistakes.

"That's how you learn," Washington said.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Adrian Beltre
BA HR RBI R
.325 18 75 77
OTHER LEADERS
HRA. Beltre 18
RBIA. Beltre 75
RA. Beltre 77
OPSA. Beltre .882
WC. Lewis 10
ERAC. Lewis 5.34
SOY. Darvish 182