Rangers work out at Youth Academy

January 14th, 2019

DALLAS -- Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre is retired but his workout facility is not. Adrian Beltre Field indoors at the Texas Rangers MLB Academy in West Dallas was busy on a cold Monday morning this week.

Outfielder was playing long-toss with field coordinator Jayce Tingler while Joey Gallo was inside the batting cage getting tips from new batting coach Luis Ortiz. One cage over, assistant hitting coach Callix Crabbe was throwing soft toss to .

, , and waited patiently for their turn while … well, he was doing what Elvis Andrus does, talking and booming his music so all could hear.

A great time was being had by all, because something totally unforeseen has taken place at the Texas Rangers Youth Academy at the Mercy Street Sports Complex.

A facility built for children has become the daily workout spot for the Rangers players this offseason. Gallo, Andrus, Choo, Mazara and the others are working out in the same facility used by Dallas Pinkston High School's baseball and softball teams.

"It's nice … really nice," Choo said. "I don't think we have any kind of facility like this in Korea. This has everything we need."

The complex officially opened Dec. 19, 2017. At the time, the inside joke was that the facility was so good, you could train a Major League team there.

That is no longer a joke.

"No … it is very much a reality," Tingler said. "The timing is great. The kids are at school, so we have the place all to ourselves. The coaches were trying to come up with stuff that we couldn't do here, and we were hard-pressed to think of anything."

Adrian Beltre Field -- made possible by a donation from the future Hall of Famer -- is the indoor facility with field turf. It is the size of a football field, so the Rangers can do almost anything needed, from taking their swings in the batting cages, to stretching and running, or taking ground balls and fly balls.

There are bullpen mounds in another part of the complex, although right now, pitchers are just doing flat-ground throwing at this point in the offseason. , and Taylor Hearn were among the pitchers working out Monday morning.

There is also a weight room. The only problem there is that it was donated by Odor, so his photos are prominently displayed all over the walls. Upstairs there are classrooms and a kitchen.

Beltre's indoor field is the difference-maker, and the one thing about the Academy that sets it apart from Globe Life Park. If the Rangers want to do full baseball activities there, they have to go outside, which isn't a desirable notion in January. The Rangers used to have to borrow the football fieldhouses at local high schools if they wanted a full indoor workout in the winter.

No more.

"We have been working together the last three or four years in the offseason, but a place like this is really special," DeShields said. "We are able to work together, push each other, talk to each other about our goals for the season, help each other. I love this spot."

This was not planned. The Academy was built in West Dallas, a couple miles outside of downtown, with the full intention of providing baseball and softball opportunities to local youth. It is one of eight Major League academies around the country, with more in the works. But many of the Rangers' players live in Dallas, and this winter they discovered the benefits of using the Academy. Next week, Texas will hold its annual mid-winter minicamp at the Academy rather than Globe Life Park. The classrooms will get as much use as the weight room and field.

"It's great because it is so close," Gallo said. "Everybody lives in Dallas, so you are 10 minutes away. It's great to walk onto Adrian Beltre Field, see his number painted there, his pictures on the wall. It's like he is here with us. Rougie has his weight room. That's really cool.

"Hopefully one day I can make a contribution like that and be a part of this."

The Rangers do their workouts here in the mornings during the week. The rest of the time, the Academy is devoted to its original mission of serving the boys, girls and families of Dallas and North Texas.

More than 1,000 boys and girls participated in the Youth Fall Training Academy last autumn, and many more will be filling up the spring and summer leagues. Teams from the Academy participated last year in the RBI Southwest Regional Tournament in Austin, and the Commissioner's Cup and Jennie Finch Classic, prestigious tournaments held in conjunction with the Major League All-Star Game in Washington D.C.

The Rangers have held Thanksgiving and Christmas parties at the Academy, and the West Dallas Youth College Prep Night, as the Mobile Go Center from Texas Woman's University was there to help students fill out the necessary forms for higher learning.

The Academy has become something special, and the Rangers' players are enjoying it as much as anybody.

"This is amazing," Mazara said. "The kids who get to use this place are going to become spoiled. For us to be able to use it, too, is great."