FRISCO — Mitch Moreland’s third and final game with Double-A Frisco saw the Rangers first baseman go 3-for-5 with a single, double and home run. The Mississippi native also drove in three runs, which came courtesy of his three-run bomb to left field in the bottom of the fifth.
“Feeling good, ready to go,” Moreland said after the game. “Main thing was trying to get my timing back, I think I’ve been doing close to baseball activities from the beginning. I’m feeling good, ready to get back out there.”
All told, he saw 13 pitches in his five at-bats in Wednesday’s matinee. In the home half of the first, he hit a liner to first base on the second pitch of the AB for Frisco’s third out. In the bottom of the fourth, he stroked a single to right center, sending a flare just over the outstretched arm of Midland second baseman Odubel Herrera.
But in the bottom of the fifth, he hit about a 360-foot home run to left, drilling a 0-1 fastball for a three-run jack. Moreland crushed the 89 MPH offering on the second pitch of the AB. He returned to the dish in the bottom of the sixth, this time lining a double down the right field line.
However, his bid for the cycle ended in the bottom of the eighth when after taking strike one, he grounded out to second. Moreland played his second straight game at first base for Frisco and again hit three-hole for the Rangers’ Texas League affiliate.
When asked if he was aware that all he needed to complete the cycle was a three-bagger, he offered a pretty deadpan response. “I’m not much of a triples guy,” he said.
After going 0-for-3 on Monday night as Frisco’s Designated Hitter, he was 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and an RBI on Tuesday. For his three games in Frisco, where he played regularly in 2009, he was 6-for-12 with four RBI and two runs scored.
“I didn’t want to be here for 15 days, but it’s kind of part of it,” Moreland said. “You’ve got to stay healthy. It’s a long season. You don’t want to go out there, mess something up and make it last even longer, so got to go out play smart and play hard.”
Moreland went on the 15-day disabled list on June 6 with a strained right hamstring. The Mississippi native missed 31 games in 2012 with a strained left hamstring. He last played on June 5 at Boston, when he went 2-for-3 with two doubles as the Rangers handed the Red Sox a 3-2 defeat at Fenway Park.
“They said it was a grade one [strain this time],” Moreland said. “I don’t know anything about it, just try to go out and play. Felt something, Rangers wanted to play it safe and made the call. Just tried to get back healthy and try to get back on the field.”
The Rangers conclude a four-game series with Oakland on Thursday afternoon in Arlington and will then head to St. Louis to begin a three-game series that will run through Sunday. It will be Texas’ first time to face the Cardinals since St. Louis beat the Rangers in the 2011 World Series in seven games.
Moreland is expected to return to first base for Friday’s series opener in the Gateway City and hopefully will be good to go for the rest of the season. He will return to Arlington for Thursday’s series finale with the A’s and will be activated on Friday.
His return comes at a crucial time for the Rangers, who after playing the Redbirds for three at Busch Stadium will then head to the South Bronx for a three-game series against the Yankees before returning home to host the Reds for three to close out the month of June.
“Every game’s a big game for us. Every road trip’s a big road trip for us. You go out and try to beat whoever’s on the other side of you,” Moreland said. “That’s our goal, is to go out and create some opportunities and let the team know that they’ve got to play us. We’re going to try to go out, play hard and get the job done.”
And just like other Ranger regulars like Ian Kinsler and A.J. Pierzynski did during their rehab stints in Frisco, he bought his teammates dinner after each game. For Monday, that meant getting them food from Maggiano’s Little Italy but the postgame fare for today’s game was a bit different.
“We went Maggiano’s the first night and then we’re going with some sushi today. I don’t know where they got the sushi from, but I told them to get some sushi,” Moreland said. “I wanted to keep it a little lighter. That way if they want to go to dinner tonight [they can].”