Mitch Moreland hopes for shot to catch fire
September, 30, 2011
By Jeff Caplan | ESPNDallas.com
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Will Mitch Moreland be in the Game 1 starting lineup? Well, that could depend on if a righty or lefty is on the mound. Then again, it might not.
"Maybe, maybe not," Rangers manager Ron Washington said.
The Rangers have so much versatility with Michael Young and Mike Napoli, two guys raking at the plate, that the slumping left-handed hitting Moreland could be watching the ALDS from the bench a year after making his mark as a rookie against the Rays.
"It definitely helps," Moreland said of his postseason experience. "Being able to take some experiences and the mindset I had last year and kind of direct it the same way this year I think would help me personally and and the group in general."
For that to happen Moreland would have to get a shot in the lineup. Moreland played in just 15 games in September, by far his lowest total of any month this season, and he hit just .167 to drive his average down to .259. Conversely, Young, who will be the designated hitter if not at first base, is hitting .347 in September. Napoli, whose two homers and three RBIs Wednesday night supplied all the runs needed to give Texas home-field advantage, hit .429 with eight homers and 19 RBIs this month, would start at catcher if not at first.
Washington could go with Young at first base, Napoli behind the plate and catcher Yorvit Torrealba at DH. Moreland is the best defender, but his quiet bat could make that a moot point.
"I've been working on my swing all season and putting a lot of hours in the cage," Moreland said. "Here, lately, I've really tried to just kind of do quality over quantity you could say and try to give myself breaks every now and then."
In fact, Washington spent extra time with Moreland in the cages during the team's Thursday workout.
"I'm just trying to stay relaxed and have fun playing," Moreland said. "That's what it's about. It's still a game. It means a lot to us, but it's still a game and I want to make sure I'm still having fun and not turning it into something bad."