ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Throughout the spring, Elvis Andrus had to deal with a sore elbow and shoulder due to inactivity throughout the winter. Several times, the Rangers shortstop had to take time off from throwing.
Over this past weekend, Andrus had a couple of games against the Tampa Bay Rays that should put to rest any questions about his right arm.
On Saturday, Andrus made a highlight-reel play when he charged a slow roller hit by David DeJesus, scooped up the ball barehanded and side-armed a throw over to first for the out. This followed a strong relay throw home earlier in the game.
On Sunday, after Shin-Soo Choo reached on an infield single, Andrus broke a scoreless tie with a two-run homer in the eighth inning off Rays reliever Joel Peralta, the latest in a game he had ever homered during his six-year career.
"It felt good to do something like that for the team," said Andrus, who has just 19 career homers.
And just as important, Andrus proved he is at full strength.
"I feel strong and in game shape," Andrus said when discussing his arm troubles. "There are no problems. Everything's good."
In homering at Tropicana Field, Andrus smacked his third career dinger at the domed stadium, the most of any road ballpark.
Coincidentally, Andrus, along with Choo, was instrumental in getting the Rangers to the Rays bullpen after starter Alex Cobb had thoroughly dominated Texas over seven innings and manufacturing the runs in the eighth. The two combined to see 40 of the 120 pitches thrown by Cobb and Peralta.
Cotts proceeded to strike out Joyce.
"It was really nice to get Neal Cotts out there to finally get that monkey off his back," Washington said.
Fielder effect: Despite Prince Fielder beginning his Rangers career with struggling numbers -- four hits in 24 at-bats, the first baseman is having an effect on the players around him.
Andrus said one of the biggest reasons he is off to such a good start this year is because of Fielder hitting behind him in the lineup. Andrus highlighted that fact after hitting the homer Sunday against Peralta.
"I knew he was going to try to go and get me," Fielder said. "Especially when you have a guy like Prince behind me, it's going to be tough to get crazy and sneak a changeup or a breaking pitch, so I was trying to stay short on that one."
Andrus is off to one of the best starts of his career, hitting safely in all six games so far. After having a season-best three hits Saturday and a 1-for-4 day Sunday, Andrus is batting .333.
Soria saves: Joakim Soaria recorded his first save with the Rangers. It marked his first save opportunity since converting one Sept. 11, 2011 with the Royals.