Time marches on. The happy-go-lucky shortstop is now “Mr. Ranger.” In terms of continuous service with the club, left-hander Matt Harrison is the senior Texas Ranger. Harrison reached the majors in July 2008. It is difficult for a starting pitcher to be “Mr. Ranger,” because he appears once every five games. The last Rangers pitcher to carry the designation had the advantage of multiple no-hitters on his résumé. Elvis Andrus has been with the club the longest of the current position players. He arrived on opening day 2009, and has grown from exuberant-but-raw kid to a constant presence at the center of everything. Andrus, 25, is the people’s choice, as indicated by the crowd’s rousing reaction during his appearance at Fan Fest on Saturday at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Andrus is the club’s choice, as indicated by the flurry of off-season moves. Others departed; Andrus remained. “It feels good to be here,” Andrus said. “I don’t see anything special about it. I just have to be myself and prepare myself for this year.” It will be a decidedly different team. The Rangers have changed six positions. Andrus, third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Leonys Martin are expected to be the only holdover starters from last season’s opening day lineup. The changes directly affect Andrus. For the first time in his major league career, Andrus will not have second baseman Ian Kinsler as his full-time middle-infield partner. “I look at that, and it’s like. ‘Wow,’” Andrus said of the club’s alterations. “When you see that, you’re blessed and humbled to stay here. You have to remember you could be here this year and never know what’s going to happen next year.” That does not apply to Andrus, a factor in his rise to “Mr. Ranger.” The Rangers gave Andrus the strongest of endorsements last year when they worked out a contract extension that could keep him with the club through 2023, if he does not exercise an opt-out clause. With the deal, the Rangers loudly proclaimed they wanted Andrus to be their centerpiece player. They would find room elsewhere for another gifted young shortstop, Jurickson Profar. Kinsler was the odd infielder out. The Rangers broke up the most-used middle-infield combination in the majors for the last five years. Andrus and Kinsler had a major league high 578 starts as the middle infielders since 2009. “I’ll miss him a lot,” Andrus said of Kinsler. “It’s a business, and I understand that.” Andrus and Profar have started only 31 games as the middle-infield combination. It will take time and effort, Andrus said, to develop the same rapport that he had with Kinsler. Each knew where the other would be, leading to scintillating double plays. “If he plays hard and does the right things, he’s going to be a great player,” Andrus said of Profar. Said Profar: “I can learn from [Andrus]. I have things to work on, and he’s going to help me. He’s a great player to learn from.” Manager Ron Washington has been careful not to put too much of a load on Andrus during his development phase. That changes this season.
As longest-tenured position player, Elvis Andrus now has higher expectations
Dallas Morning News | Jan 26