Choo ready for spring, 'not ready for full-time DH'

After injury-plagued '16, veteran could have new role; Andrus also working out, feeling healthy

January 19th, 2017

ARLINGTON -- Rangers outfielder , after a Thursday morning workout at a local high school, was asked if all his body parts were working.

"Yeah ... geez," Choo said wearily. "I feel good. A lot of people, first thing they ask me is about my health. I'm tired of being asked that, but after what happened last year ... my body feels good. I am ready for Spring Training."

It's a fair question to ask both Choo and shortstop , who was also working out at the high school as part of a minicamp for younger players.

Choo was on the disabled list four times last year because of a strained right calf muscle, strained left hamstring, lower back inflammation and a broken left forearm. He played in just 48 games.

Andrus never went on the DL and played in 147 games. But it was revealed after the season Andrus had been dealing with a sports hernia since mid-May, and he underwent surgery in October.

"It was hurting in the groin, too," Andrus said. "I played through it, but it started bothering me in May and got worse and worse. That's why I enjoyed my days off. Now it's a lot better. I'm almost 100 percent."

Andrus still had his best season offensively, leading Texas with a career-high .302 batting average. He also set career highs with a .362 on-base percentage and a .439 slugging percentage.

Andrus said the injury didn't affect his swing. He said it bothered him more in the field and running the bases, but there was never any thought of going on the DL or taking extra time off.

"When you have playing next to you through every pain, it makes it harder to sit down," Andrus said.

Because of the surgery, Andrus is not planning to play for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic.

"I just want to be smart and be ready for the season," Andrus said.

Choo is not expected to play for South Korea either in the Classic, although that has not been finalized. His focus right now is on his health.

The Spring Training drama for Choo could be about how much time he spends at designated hitter. It's another topic he is not eager to discuss.

"Whatever direction the team is taking or needs me, I'm willing to help," Choo said. "But I am not ready for full-time DH."

That's hardly going to be decided in January. The Rangers are still trying to put together their team, and there is still a possibility Mike Napoli or somebody else could be signed as a first baseman/DH. Josh Hamilton was signed to a Minor League contract earlier this week, and he is expected to work out at both first base and the outfield as well as DH.

could impact Choo the most. DeShields was the Rangers' Opening Day center fielder last year, but now the Rangers have there, with in left and Choo in right.

DeShields is Texas' fourth outfielder, but if he forces his way back into the lineup, it could push Gomez to right and Choo to DH.

The more likely scenario -- at least for now -- is manager Jeff Banister using multiple players at the DH spot. Choo said he would be fine being used at DH for a couple of times per week.

"Two or three times a week, yes," Choo said. "Just not all the time."

Rangers beat

• Catcher has been selected as the 2017 winner of the Jim Sundberg Community Achievement Award, and he will be honored at the Texas Rangers Award Banquet on Friday in Dallas. He is being honored for his charitable work through the Robinson Chirinos Foundation.

• The Rangers have announced the game times for the 2017 season. Regular home game times in 2017 will once again be 7:05 p.m. CT for night games, 1:05 p.m. for weekday day games and 2:05 p.m. CT for Sunday games.

 The confirmed exceptions are the home opener, Monday, April 3, against Cleveland (6:05 p.m.), Saturday, June 3, against Houston (6:15 p.m. for FOX national telecast), Saturday, June 17, against Seattle (4:05 p.m.) and Saturday, July 8, vs. the Los Angeles Angels (8:05 p.m.).

• Funeral services for former Rangers general manager Dan O'Brien will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Rest Haven Funeral Home in Rockwall (Texas). O'Brien passed away Monday at the age of 87.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be sent to the Tim O'Brien Memorial Scholarship Fund -- The Columbus Foundation -- 1234 East Broad Street, Columbus, Ohio 43205.