by Tyler Handlan
SURPRISE — Texas Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus said that his offseason surgery for a sports hernia came at a perfect time. He said he’s happy that he went through with the procedure.
However, at first he wasn’t too keen on the idea.
“I talked to the doctor, and he said if I did the surgery, it would take all the pain out,” Andrus said. “I think that was the reason for me to do it.”
Andrus dealt with this groin injury near the end of last season and underwent surgery in early November.
He said that the pain wasn’t severe enough to stop him from playing, but he wasn’t comfortable, either.
“It bothered me, especially like playing defense,” Andrus said. “Going to my sides, every time I had to push sideways, that’s when I really feel the most. Hitting wise didn’t bother me at all. Running for sure I wasn’t a hundred percent.”
Despite the injury, Andrus hit a career-high .302 last season.
Andrus played through to the end of last season. He’s been durable throughout his career. His 147 games last season were the second-lowest total of his career. He played in 145 as a rookie in 2009.
The 28-year-old from Venezuela played his first game this spring a few weeks into the exhibition season.
“He knows what it takes to get ready for a season,” Rangers first baseman Mike Napoli said. “He looks good. Going through an offseason surgery, you just take the right steps to getting back to play on the field. He’s been able to do pretty much everything with us and he definitely looks good.”
After rehabbing his groin for the majority of the offseason, and knowing what it takes to be physically ready for a 162-game grind, Andrus believes that he’s nearly back to full health.
“I don’t think I’m 100 percent yet but I’m close,” he said this week.
The middle infielder said that his groin injury actually helped his game a bit. He cited how things happen for a reason, and he thinks that last year’s injury struggles were a blessing in disguise.
“It taught me a lot of things about my game,” Andrus said. “I think the mental part. If you’re not 100 percent, sometimes a situation (makes) you use your brain a little bit more than everything physically. I was able to simplify a lot of things.”
Other than being limited with some of his playing capabilities, Andrus said that the adversity he faced with his groin allowed for him to gain a great mentality.
“Offensively and defensively I was a lot smarter than I’ve been in my past years,” he said. “That’s something I want to continue to do this year.”
Last postseason, the Toronto Blue Jays swept the Rangers in three games during the American League Divisional series.
With the addition of Napoli to the Texas’ roster, and catcher Jonathan Lucroy entering his first full year with the Rangers after being traded midway through last season by the Milwaukee Brewers, and a potentially healthy two-time all-star in Andrus — the Rangers may be able to push to the next level, the AL Championship Series.
Napoli and Andrus were teammates in Napoli’s two previous stints with Texas.
“To have Elvis healthy is what we need to move on,” Napoli said. “He’s the mouth of everything in the dugout. He’s a great player and we all know that. To be able to have a healthy Elvis is what we need.”