ARLINGTON, Texas -- Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland didn't have many doubts that he could put together a solid start to the season and show that he belonged in the lineup as much as possible.
Last postseason had a lot to do with that confidence. Moreland started the playoffs platooning with Jorge Cantu at first, but by the time David Price appeared for Game 5 of the ALDS, Moreland was manager Ron Washington's first baseman, period. He was solid in the postseason and hit a memorable homer in Game 3 of the World Series.
"That postseason and being able to come up last year and learn definitely gave me that confidence," Moreland said. "It gave me a little momentum going into the spring. I knew what I had to do and where I needed to be. I felt like I got better in the spring. I wanted to be a little more consistent, stay on some off-speed stuff a little better and I think it's carried over to the season for the most part. I try to do a little too much at times and I'm trying to get better about that."
That nine-pitch at-bat was just the highest-profile example of Moreland's grinding approach at the plate. And he's carried that over into spring training and now the regular season in 2011.
Moreland is batting .313 and has hit safely in 11 of his last 13 games. He has nine extra-base hits, including seven doubles in 15 games this season.
"When I get in the box, I want to battle," Moreland said. "I try to win every at-bat, whether it's seeing some pitches or moving a guy over or getting a knock or driving a guy in. I want to get something out of my at-bat and make it a positive in any way I can. That's the way I approach it."
The arrival of Mike Napoli means Moreland hasn't hit against lefties often at all in 2011. In fact, he's 0-for-2 with a walk of left-handed pitching. But the left-handed hitter is crushing righties, going 15-for-46 with the nine extra-base hits.
Moreland's ability to play right field will also get him more at-bats. He was there on Wednesday, meaning Napoli could play first.
"I've played just as much right field as I have first base throughout the minor leagues," Moreland said. "I've played more first base here and I probably feel a little more comfortable at first, but I still feel good in right field and ready to go whenever I get the call."
Moreland isn't worried about his playing time or how many chances he might get against left-handed pitching.
"There are a lot of good hitters on this team," Moreland said. "I'll be ready to do whatever they need me to do."