ARLINGTON, Texas -– There was a good crowd of reporters around shortstop Elvis Andrus’ locker Tuesday night.
He came out of a hitters' meeting and his name not being in the lineup created a stir.
And while on the surface there’s nothing wrong with Andrus getting consecutive days off, there are deeper issues here.
“If he’s honest, he will tell you this wasn’t his best year,” Bogar said over the weekend. “It’s frustrating for him, and it’s frustrating for all of us with everything that we’ve gone through. I think getting this year past us and getting the focus back on where we can go as a team is going to help him, too.”
From the moment Andrus arrived in the big leagues in 2009, he’s never had a losing season. He has played in two World Series, has learned about the game from Michael Young and Omar Vizquel and had played for just one manager.
Now he has to become a leader in a season when his team will most likely lose 100 games. He has to be the example for players barely younger than him. In 2014, he’s played with five different second basemen and had to expand his range in the outfield with left fielder Shin-Soo Choo’s sprained ankle limiting his range. He’s even had to go further to center field because of the early struggles of Leonys Martin.
At the plate, Andrus’ runs scored (67), hits (146), RBIs (34) and OBP (.315) are down. He’s hit into a career-high 20 double plays. He's been caught stealing an AL-leading 13 times.
Andrus has battled through inflammation in his right elbow, something that’s been bothering him since spring training. The discomfort comes and goes, and he really needs rest.
So getting this break isn’t a bad thing.
“Oh, yeah, it’s been the same thing all year,” Andrus said. “I’ve been blessed and glad that I’m able to play, and it’s something I need to take care of and come back next year 100 percent.”
The Rangers need him to be 100 percent. There’s Luis Sardinas, who will see time at short when Andrus gets a day off, who the Rangers like.
However, Andrus isn’t going anywhere.
He signed an eight-year contract extension worth $120 million last year. It’s hard to trade a $120 million player coming off a down year.
The Rangers don’t want to trade Andrus because they value him and need assurances he’s OK. The mental portion of this game can wear on you if losing is part of the daily life of the baseball schedule. Andrus is losing the majority of the time now.
“This is one of the first times where he’s had to lead younger players all the time,” Bogar said. “And you can’t discount that. either. That takes a lot of energy sometimes, especially when you play every day. You got to make sure the second baseman is doing everything right, and you got to make sure the other kids are out there doing it correctly and become that kind of guy. He had Young and [Ian] Kinsler to help him through it. And him having to do it has been, I’m sure it’s been mentally adjusting for him, too.”
Andrus needed to make the adjustment from young kid having fun winning baseball games to veteran player who must lead.
This year has been unlike anything he’s seen, and a renewed effort in 2015 is a must, he said.
“Oh, yeah, for sure. Not just for me, the whole organization,” Andrus said. “Sometimes you have to see yourself and say, ‘It’s about the team.’ When we’re losing, no matter if you’re having a good year, still bad for everybody.”