Rangers SS Andrus Only 23 But Experienced
SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) – There are two ways to look at Elvis Andrus.
Going into his fourth season as starting shortstop for the Texas Rangers, Andrus has already been an All-Star and played in two World Series.
But he’s also still prone to youthful mistakes. Then again, he’s only 23 years old.
Rangers manager Ron Washington has provoked, pushed and pestered Andrus in past springs trying to get the best out of him.
This time, Washington is taking a different approach. He’s treating Andrus more like one of the veterans.
“Now I’m going to allow Elvis to be his own policeman,” Washington said. “I’ve never allowed him to be his own policeman. Meaning when I see things I don’t like, I let him know about it. I chew him out when he’s not doing what he’s supposed to do.
“I think he’s established himself now to the point where he understands what he has to do. We’re going to give him some leeway. His teammates will make sure he does what he’s supposed to do.”
Andrus’ 25 errors last season were the second-highest total for a shortstop. Washington, a former major league infielder, pulled Andrus from a game early last season after a lackadaisical throw to first base.
Now Washington wants to Andrus to be able to figure out a few things on his own.
“That’s always good. That’s what you’re looking for as a player,” Andrus said. “It’s nice when somebody sees something you are doing wrong and give it to you, so you can fix it right away. But sometime as a player you want to be the one who made the adjustment. You’re going to be the guy, the one who knows what happens yourself. I’m feeling good when that happens.”
The Rangers avoided salary arbitration with Andrus by signing him to a $14.4 million, three-year contract last month. That deal takes him through the rest of his arbitration-eligible seasons and into his first potential free agency season — when he will still be only 26.
Andrus made his major league debut in the 2009 season opener. The Rangers moved five-time All-Star shortstop Michael Young to third base to make room for Andrus, who was then only 20 and had never played above the Double-A level.
“He’s so talented we forget he’s only been in the big leagues for three years,” Washington said. “He came from Double-A. He’s still young. I give Elvis two more years before he gets to the point where he has a great idea of what it takes every single day and being able to come every day and bring it.”
Andrus is a .271 career hitter with 102 stolen bases while playing at least 145 games in each of his three seasons for the Rangers. He hit a career-best .279 with 37 stolen bases last season.
He had a 16-game hitting streak and stole 33 bases as a rookie in 2009, and made the AL All-Star team in 2010. He has already played in 33 postseason games.
Andrus made four errors in a five-game stretch last April. He committed five more errors over seven games in July. But he ended the regular season without an error in 138 chances the last 33 games.
“He had a rough start, but he figured it out down the stretch,” Washington said.
“It was unprecedented for me last year. Early in the year I lost all focus during those games I make some errors. As a young guy I’m looking to learn from my errors and just get better,” Andrus said. “In the beginning I lost focus a little bit because of all the errors. As a player you don’t want to do it. I learned my lesson. I just tried to get back to simplify my defense, simplify the way I take the ground ball and make the out.”
The Rangers open Cactus League play Sunday.
One of the advantages for Andrus being treated more like a veteran by Washington is that he won’t play as many games this spring.
“I wanted him to experience what being tired is about and still being able to perform,” Washington said. “This spring I’m not going to run him in the ground. I’m going to treat him like a veteran. I’m going to allow him to show me when I can get on him and when I can’t.”
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)