SURPRISE, Ariz. — Texas Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus is entering a big year. He turned 31 at the end of August, putting him in a small category in major league baseball. He is now the second-oldest starting shortstop in baseball, behind only Brandon Crawford of the Giants, who is 33.
"You know, it's kind of like a running back after 30," Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. "Shortstops after 30? There's not too many of them."
Woodward is right. Andrus is one of just five starting shortstops in baseball over the age of 30 (Didi Gregorious [Feb. 18th] and Nick Ahmed [Mar. 15] will make it seven before the season begins), and he's one of only two in the American League.
Andrus had a down year in 2018, due in large part to injury, and wasn't quite himself in 2019, either. But the Rangers second year skipper is still bullish on his shortstop.
"I know there's more to him on an everyday basis. And that was the challenge and he's worked his butt off this offseason. I mean it was intense. He wants to prove it to the world," Woodward said.
"He got off to a good start last year. But [he's got] to maintain that kind of production. He's capable of it. We've all seen it. He showed it a few years before that before he got hurt. So I think it's just getting back to that consistency on a daily basis, especially with the bat."
And as for the fielding aspect, Woodward says he's seen the work in the offseason, and believes it will pay dividends.
"He's playing an elite position, you know, a very strenuous position at an older age," Woodward said. "But like I said, the work he put in I think will will carry him through the season. And that's why we challenged him on that and he took that on and put in the work to be able to perform for 162 games."