Situational hitting stokes competition

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Give Texas Rangers bench coach Tim Bogar some credit. He knew that by turning situational hitting into a competitive game -- and separating Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus -- that he could get his team even more excited about working on it.

The result is a three-game tournament that pits one infield group led by Andrus against one led by Beltre. The outfielders and catchers are also on teams and facing each other. Beltre and Andrus, of course, couldn't help but raise the stakes. Andrus said the loser will buy lunch for "the entire complex." When asked if that included media, Andrus balked a bit (yes, we in the media are always hoping for a free lunch).

The two were busy exchanging some friendly trash talk Friday, even though the first game was Thursday and they don't play again until Saturday.

"I've got a good team and we dominated," Andrus said. "I've been talking to him about it the whole day. We're really, really good. And next time, we'll be able to hit balls deep as part of it, so I've got Prince on my team for that."

The idea is that each team is asked to execute based on a situation given by the coaches. That may be a hit-and-run or hitting behind a runner. Anything that requires situational hitting without bunting (they'll add that in a few days and work on it in separate drills). Andrus and Fielder headline one team, and Beltre and Mitch Moreland are the veterans on the other squad.

Andrus' team is leading by eight points (and no one seems to know exactly how they are keeping these points, but the coaches do).

"Yesterday, Elvis put on a show," manager Ron Washington said. "He put on a show. He led his group. It was exactly what we wanted. Of course, there are some things we have to continue to correct, but what we're trying to do is get them to think about it. You can say it, but now we're trying to get some action."

Beltre acknowledged that Andrus played well but also pointed out that his team made a late comeback to close the gap. It didn't hurt Andrus' team that Jurickson Profar wasn't swinging the bat Thursday, meaning Andrus hit for him.

"It's getting a guy over," Beltre said. "Who do you think is going to be good at that? It's not over."

Round 2 (of three) is Saturday at the end of workouts. It should be lively.