Andrus on back issues: 'A lot left in my tank'

32-year-old confident he can be Rangers' everyday shortstop in 2021

September 13th, 2020

ARLINGTON -- Rangers shortstop  needs to get healthy and that has become a huge question mark because of his lower back.

Rangers manager Chris Woodward has been impressed with rookie shortstop . He also knows that Tejeda still needs much development and improvement before he is ready to be an everyday Major League shortstop.

Andrus is still the Rangers' No. 1 option at short for next season. But nothing is guaranteed until Andrus overcomes his back issues.

“I don’t know. ... I love what Elvis has done in his career,” Woodward said. “I guess we’ll have to see. He has to be healthy; he has to feel good. I would love that -- if he came in ready to play and playing well. He is a helluva player. I would love that. But that’s more up to him.”

Andrus’ back is not in good shape. He has dealt with sore lower back issues for most of his career, but he revealed Sunday that it has been worse this year.

“From November last year until right now, it's been my left side and the pain has been really, really bad,” Andrus said. “It has cost me a lot of mobility. It caused me a lot of pain just to wake up, to get up. It took a lot of my energy just to be ready to play a game. That was one of the reasons I really have to take this seriously, especially moving forward in my career.”

Andrus’ condition, according to the Rangers, is a facet joint sprain, which is a ligament in the left side of his lower back. He was examined by Dr. Andrew Dossett and placed on the injured list. Treatment consists of anti-inflammatory injections that Andrus will receive on Monday. This is not a condition that would require surgery.

“The inflammation is what's causing all the pain throughout my back,” Andrus said. “That's the reason I don't really have that much mobility. It is noticeable this year especially, [with] the way I was playing. I look a lot slower, especially in the beginning, my bat speed wasn't there … it gets to a point where I was like, 'I know I'm not producing.'

"The last thing I want is for people to lose faith in me and think that I'm done when I'm not."

Andrus, 32, has played in just 29 games this season, hitting .194/.252/.330. He is signed for two more seasons at $28.5 million and he still believes he can be a front-line shortstop if his back is healthy.

“If I get my body 100 percent, I’m there,” Andrus said. “I have no limitations in my mind that I can still be a productive player. I know there is a lot left in my tank and I am not done. Believe me, I know what type of player I am and what I can do. I think I’ve earned that. No doubt I am an everyday player right now.”

Andrus’ back injury opened an opportunity for Tejeda and he is off to a nice start, going 9-for-31 (.290) with two home runs. He has the athletic and physical ability to play shortstop. But Tejeda had never played above Class A before his debut and that makes it difficult for Woodward to see the 22-year-old being ready to be the No. 1 shortstop next season.

“To be honest, that would be a little bit of a leap of faith,” Woodward said. “He’s young. He’s got a lot to learn. Right now, we are going to see what we’ve got. But I don’t expect it to be as consistent as what Elvis could bring on a daily basis.”

A position switch is always a possibility for a shortstop approaching the later years of his career. That seems unlikely right now for Andrus. The Rangers have Isiah Kiner-Falefa developing into a front-line third baseman and either Rougned Odor or Nick Solak at second.

The need is at shortstop -- and Andrus is the preferred option. Tejeda needs more time, even if he is all the Rangers have right now.

“There is a lot he needs to learn and right now is a golden opportunity for him,” Woodward said. “If he comes in ready and Elvis isn’t healthy, he may be a guy we can count on. Potentially count on. But I want to make sure he is crystal clear what our expectations are for a Major League shortstop and the consistency that comes with that and he is preparing accordingly.”

Trevino goes on IL
The Rangers placed catcher Jose Trevino on the injured list with a sprained left wrist and recalled outfielder Scott Heineman from the alternate training site. Trevino injured the wrist on Tuesday and he was not showing significant improvement.

“Trevino was a little bit disappointed yesterday, because he didn't feel that great,” Woodward said prior to Sunday's game. “He tried to catch and it didn't feel great catching. He hasn't been able to swing a bat yet. It's a little slower than we anticipated.”

Woodward said outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, who has a sprained right wrist, has also been recovering slowly.

“He hasn't picked up a bat, as well,” Woodward said. “It's pretty swollen still. It's getting better, just at a slower pace than both men were hoping.”