Moreland looking for improvement vs. lefties

NORTH RICHLAND HILLS –  Mitch Moreland is well aware of his struggles against left-handed pitching over his first three years with the Texas Rangers.

Moreland has spent his offseason doing everything he can to try and make it better by working on his swing against left-handers at home in Alabama. Moreland has batted just .232 against lefties with the Rangers.

He’s hoping the extra work works pays off.

“I just felt like because I haven’t seen them (left-handers) a whole lot the last couple of years I needed to work on it and get to where I felt really comfortable in there with them,” Moreland said. “I’ve been working hard to get ready to go. It’s been good. I’ve tried to take some swings and do everything I can to be in a good spot when I go in.”

Moreland has spent three days a week hitting against one of his friends who pitched collegiately at Samford.

While Tuesday was the first time Moreland’s been in the Metroplex this offseason, his name has been a hot topic. For a while it looked like he was going to be the designated hitter if the club moved Ian Kinsler to first base. But now that Kinsler will play second, first base is Moreland’s job heading into the season.

“It helps to walk in there and see your name in there (the lineup),” Moreland said. “I know what I’m capable of. I’m going to work hard to prove it. Every day I go out and try to prove that. I have since I’ve been here. I go out every day and try to prove I’m the best player I can.”

One thing Moreland hasn’t concerned himself with is where he plays defensively. That feeling didn’t change Tuesday in light of the news linking right fielder Nelson Cruz to performance-enhancing drugs. Moreland has started 32 games in right field with Texas, including 28 in 2011. The Rangers could use Moreland in right if they lose Cruz to a suspension.

Moreland, who was at the caravan stop along with Ian Kinsler and Craig Gentry, is focusing on what he can control.

“I’m the player,” said Moreland, who has dropped 15 pounds since last season in an effort to improve his mobility. “I’m going to put myself in the best position to help our team win. I’ve worked really hard on all aspects, just trying to be ready to go. Whatever they need me to do I’m here to do it.”