NORTH RICHLAND HILLS, Texas -- Mitch Moreland showed up for one of his few public appearances with the Texas Rangers this offseason (at a Winter Caravan event Tuesday night) looking fit and ready for spring training. Moreland said he's lost 10 pounds since the season, an effort to give him a little more mobility.
But rigorous workouts -- he said after not being fully healthy last offseason with his injured wrist that he's worked even harder the past few months now that he feels good -- aren't the only thing that Moreland has focused on this offseason. He asked a buddy who was a left-handed pitcher at Samford to pitch to him three times a week in an effort to improve against lefties.
It's one part of Moreland's game that he knows needs to get better. He has a career .232 average against left-handed pitching.
"I felt like since I hadn’t really seen them a whole lot the last couple of years, I needed to work on it and get to where I felt really comfortable in there with them," Moreland said. "I’ve been working hard and trying to get ready to go."
Moreland didn't really want to comment on the Miami New Times report that included Nelson Cruz's name as a player linked to a clinic that sold performance-enhancing drugs. MLB is investigating. If Cruz ends up having to serve some kind of suspension, Moreland could be an option in right field. He's played 44 career games there.
"I’ll do whatever I need to do to help the team win," Moreland said.
For now, his focus is on first base and improving his game. He knows now is the time to step up and take that spot for good.
"I feel like every day I go out and try to prove that," Moreland said. "I have since I’ve been here. It might have had different results than I wanted, but I go out every day and try to prove I can be the best player I can."
Ian Kinsler is convinced Moreland is primed for a good year.
"As far as his character and what I know about the guy, I think he’s going to have a huge year," Kinsler said. "I think baseball is a weird game, as far as players tend to get labeled, and once you have a label it’s tough to get rid of the label. We have some players on this team that have labels they might never get rid of, or eventually can change them. Mitch is a guy I believe can be an All-Star. I hope he comes out and has the year he wants to have."