Texas RangersManager: Jeff Banister
Stadium: Globe Life Park in Arlington
2008 Record: 79-83 (2nd in AL West)
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Elvis Andrus was at home in Maracay, Venezuela, this winter when the phone rang. It was Texas GM Jon Daniels, calling to let him know that the team was moving Gold Glove winner Michael Young from shortstop to third base to make room for him. When the 20-year-old Andrus hung up the phone, smiling, he received a chorus of cheers from his family. But as he relates the story at spring camp, his voice is steady and serious. "I've got to work on every part of the game," says Andrus, who hit .295 last season for Double-A Frisco but slugged just .367. It's his glove, though, that's his calling card. Young, who has played only four games at third in his MLB career and initially balked at the move, has served as a mentor for Andrus this spring. "I'm following him," says the new shortstop. Even if Andrus struggles at the plate as a rookie, the Rangers are counting on him to upgrade their defense. No team did a worse job of converting batted balls into outs last season, and that was a big reason Texas pitchers had the worst ERA in the league. No pressure, kid.
-- Buster Olney
HITTER TO WATCH:
Elvis Andrus is a fleet-footed, slick-fielding shortstop with good bat speed, but he is barely 20 and was only an adequate hitter in Double-A last year.
PITCHER TO WATCH:
Lefty Derek Holland is the closest of the Rangers' pitching prospects to the majors and most likely to get the call when they need a starter; he has a plus fastball and a plus changeup and usually shows good command.
-- Keith Law, Scouts Inc.
Will rookie Elvis Andrus rank among the American League's best shortstops? Will Ian Kinsler be the top second baseman? Register your vote.
Nelson Cruz's bat is legitimate, and he's going to play every day and bat cleanup in a powerful lineup in a park perfectly suited to his swing. The final two months of last season were just a preview of '09.
The entire starting rotation: None of the pitchers projected to be in the Rangers' rotation on Opening Day is worth your time. Wait for heralded prospects Derek Holland and Neftali Feliz to make the scene by midseason.
-- Jason Grey
Chris Davis is another player who brought a leftover condition from last season to this year's spring training. Davis has patellar tendinitis, or inflammation of the tendon that anchors the quadriceps muscle (on the front of the thigh) to the shinbone (tibia). The tendon is also attached to the kneecap, or patella, hence the name. The condition is common in basketball players and others involved in jumping sports, less so in baseball. Although the fact that Davis suffered from this late last year is of concern, it does not appear serious. Nonetheless, he is an up-and-comer, so managing his symptoms will be key to extending him throughout the season.
-- Stephania Bell
PRESEASON POWER RANKINGS
No. 24 overall
No. 24 overall
No. 19 overall
No. 23 overall
No. 16 overall