SURPRISE, Ariz. – Elvis Andrus made his entrance at spring training over the weekend carrying his own boom box with the music blaring so everyone could hear it.
The Texas shortstop is hoping to make that much noise with his play this season after a disappointing 2014 season that was brought on in part by Andrus not being as prepared as he should have been when the season started.
Now Andrus is out to show he’s a better play than he was last season and the Rangers are a better team. They’ll certainly be better if Andrus played like he did his first few seasons with Texas and he knows he has that in him.
"Sometimes when you here negative stuff for you it makes me want to get better and prove everybody wrong," Andrus said. "I just want to stay healthy and if I’m healthy I think I’m going to prove it to everybody."
What Andrus proved last year was that an offseason without enough preparation can lead to a bad season. The only stat up for Andrus is 2014 was his weight as he hit a career low .263, drove in just 41, had just 38 extra-base hits, was caught stealing a league-high 15 times and wasn’t at sharp at shortstop as he had been in years past.
It wasn’t the kind of year Andrus wanted nor was it the kind of year the organization wanted from a player who will make $15 million this season in the first year of an eight year, $120-million deal.
No one knows that more than Andrus.
"It was a rough year last year but like I say, everything happens for a reason," said Andrus, who is still just 26 and has already played six full seasons. "I prepared myself 200 percent this year and that’s why I feel so good right now. That was an offseason that I hope never happens again for my career. I think a lot of things happen for a reason. It taught me everything, the wrong part, the don’t do it part in the game. I learn it, embrace it. That’s why this year was such a good offseason for me."
Andrus is lighter than he was last year and believes he can surpass the 40-steal mark for a second time in his career (42 in 2013). He was one of the leaders of a group of players who trained in the Metroplex this offseason and also added yoga and Pilates to his routine.
New Texas manager Jeff Banister likes what he saw out of Andrus in the offseason and believes it will translate this year too. He knows Andrus is capable of big things.
"The shortstop should be the captain of the infield, defensive minded," Banister said. "Offensively be a premium contributor with a thought process of being a run scorer, run producer. Factor in how we score runs. Don’t be more than what he’s capable of being. Be comfortable with being the type of hitter he is."
Andrus hasn’t dwelled much on his 2014 struggles because it won’t do him any good. He’s also not focusing on those who have said the Rangers won’t be a team to beat this year. He doesn’t have time for that either.
Instead he carries the boom box with him to the practice fields in Surprise and tries to have as fun as possible while he’s getting his work done on the field.
"This year it’s all about relaxed, prepare, stay healthy, stay ready but relax, especially with everybody counting us as an underdog," Andrus said. "That’s what we need. Start the season in shape, ready to go and relax and enjoy the ride."