If there’s one team that can’t wait for the start of spring training, it’s the Texas Rangers.
The last time the Texas Rangers took the field, it was Game 7 of the 2011 World Series – a series the Texas Rangers lost to the St. Louis Cardinals, four games to three. In fact, the Rangers also have the dubious honor of having lost the 2010 World Series, four games to one, to the San Francisco Giants.
The two-time defending American League champs return to the Valley Feb. 19 when pitchers and catchers report to the practice field. They train at Surprise Stadium, which opened in 2003 and seats up to 10,500 baseball fans. The voluntary report date for position players is Feb. 24. The Texas Rangers will host their first game of the Cactus League spring training season March 4 against the Kansas City Royals.
Despite losing the 2011 World Series, the Rangers are optimistic for the 2012 season. Back at shortstop is Elvis Andrus, who signed a deal for $14.4 million to remain with the Rangers for the next three years. Andrus, 23, was a member of the American League All-Star team in 2010.
The Texas Rangers avoided arbitration with outfielder Nelson Cruz who signed a two-year contract worth $16 million after his battle with an unknown stomach infection.
Additionally, players healing from various surgeries should be back on the field as the start of spring training approaches. Third-year first baseman Mitch Moreland is almost fully recovered from wrist surgery he underwent in November. Outfielder Josh Hamilton, the AL’s 2010 Most Valuable Player, is also ready to take for what could be his final season with the Rangers. He had hernia surgery during the off-season and is continuing rehab. Hamilton also has the task of deliberating whether to draft another contract and stay with the Rangers or become a free agent after the 2012 season.
Ron Washington returns for his sixth year as the Rangers’ manager. Under his leadership and with their returning All-Stars, the Rangers could once again make a World Series appearance. Hopefully the third time’s a charm for Texas.