MLB notebook: Lighter Moreland has heavier role with Rangers
BY Associated Press
Friday, February 22, 2013
2/22/13 at 2:54 AM
As a rookie, Mitch Moreland was the Texas Rangers' best hitter in their first World Series.
In the two seasons since then, he has dealt with injuries and split time at first base. But with Michael Young and Mike Napoli no longer in Texas, manager Ron Washington wants Moreland to have some fun.
"He's my first baseman," he said. "I just want him to relax and prepare like that."
Moreland has started more than half of the Rangers' games at first base the past two years, even with veterans Young and Napoli getting their turns. But Moreland was hampered by a wrist injury the second half of 2011 that required surgery, then missed a month last season because of a strained left calf.
This spring, Moreland arrived at camp more than 15 pounds lighter, in the low 230s. The left-hander's offseason workouts included batting practice against a lefty pitcher three times a week - he has hit .232 in 177 career at-bats against lefties in the regular season games.
Young, who had been the longest-tenured Rangers player, was traded to Philadelphia in December. Napoli signed a free-agent deal with Boston.
Ivan Rodriguez back with Rangers in many roles: Ivan Rodriguez has re-joined the Texas Rangers organization as a special assistant to the general manager with several different roles.
The Rangers say he will assist the team in several areas, including international scouting, player instruction on the major and minor league levels and talent evaluation. He will also represent the team in community and marketing endeavors.
Rodriguez made his major league debut as a 19-year-old for the Rangers in 1991. The 14-time All-Star catcher retired as a player last April after 21 seasons, more than half spent in Texas.
Schmidt working with Phils' Howard on making more contact: Mike Schmidt always enjoys his visit to spring training, watching the Philadelphia Phillies practice and giving tips to hitters here and there.
This year, the Hall of Famer said, things are a bit different.
First off, Schmidt will be sticking around in Clearwater, Fla., until March 20, his longest stay in a long while.
But secondly, and most importantly, Schmidt says he sees a different team.
Ryan Howard is seeking out his advice more than ever. Schmidt called newcomer Michael Young a possible first-ballot Hall of Famer if his career ended today, and compared the third baseman to Derek Jeter.
What Schmidt notices most, however, is a different attitude.
"I see a hungriness this year that I've never seen before," he said. "Obviously in the last four or five years you weren't looking for guys to be hungry. They were the heirs apparent to the division titles, MVP award."
Nationals agree to terms with RHP Young: The Washington Nationals have agreed to terms with right-handed pitcher Chris Young on a minor-league contract with an invitation to major league spring training.
Young is 53-43 with a 3.79 ERA in 159 career starts with the New York Mets, San Diego Padres and Texas Rangers. The 33-year-old Young was an All-Star with the Padres in 2007.
Young went 4-9 with a 4.15 ERA in 20 starts last season with the Mets.
Pirates C Martin enjoying move to SS for WBC: Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Russell Martin is looking forward to switching things up for the World Baseball Classic.
Martin will move from catcher to shortstop for Team Canada when the tournament begins next month. It's a refreshing change for the 30-year-old, who began his professional career as a third baseman before being moved to catcher while still in the minors.
Martin signed a two-year, $17 million deal with the Pirates in the offseason and says he thinks the team can win now.