Mazara rested, ready to get back to work
Rangers outfielder faces third MLB season with renewed confidence
FORT WORTH, Texas -- It was an enjoyable offseason for Rangers outfielder Nomar Mazara -- at least for a little while.
Mazara went home to the Dominican Republic to rest up after his second Major League season. That meant no winter ball. The rest agreed with Mazara until it didn't.
"It's kind of good to go back home for like a month," said Mazara, who was at a Winter Caravan stop Sunday along with right-hander Austin Bibens-Dirkx. "But after that, you're laying your bed and thinking, 'Wow, I want to start playing again.' It's time to get going."
When Mazara and the Rangers get going, they won't be the favorites to win the American League West title. That honor will go to the reigning World Series-champion Astros. The Rangers also haven't made splashy deals this offseason like the Angels. Texas has focused on pitching, picking up starters Mike Minor, Matt Moore and Doug Fister.
Mazara likes what the club has done and the position it will be in this spring.
"No one is expecting much out of us," he said. "Just wait until they see us play. Everyone has a good team [in the AL West]. Everybody is hard to face. We've got one goal. We're going to go out there and give it what we got. The confidence we have is very [strong] right now."
One of the reasons the Rangers have confidence is because they have the 22-year-old Mazara in their lineup. He followed a solid rookie season in which he hit .266 with 20 home runs and 64 RBIs with a solid sophomore campaign. Although his batting average dipped to .253, he had another 20 homers and led the club with 101 RBIs, tied for ninth in the AL.
He is just the fifth Rangers player to reach the 100-RBI mark since 2007. He also became the third Texas player to have two 20-homer seasons by his age-22 season, joining Juan Gonzalez and Ruben Sierra.
Mazara is after more consistency in 2018. He batted just .228 against left-handers in 2017, and he batted .202 in June and .205 in July.
So it was overall a good season for Mazara, but not good enough for him.
"It was an OK season," he said. "There were a lot of ups and downs. At some points I was playing hurt, but I played through it. Hopefully this season I can stay healthy. It was a good season for a young guy like me, but from my side, I don't think it was that good. I could have done better. That's why I'm working so hard, because I know there's more that I can do."
So what has Mazara been working on?
"Everything," he said. "My plan is completely different. My mind is completely different. I know what I need to do now -- hitting, defense-wise, everything. This is going to be my third year in the big leagues. I know exactly what I need to work on now."