Andrus longest-tenured Rangers position player at 26

SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) Elvis Andrus is an old-timer with the Texas Rangers, even though he is only 26 years old and just getting started on a big contract extension he signed two years ago.

With 914 total games since making his major league debut at age 20 in 2009, Andrus is the Rangers' longest-tenured position player.

''It's kind of weird, but it is that way,'' Andrus said. ''That's the way baseball is. You don't know who will be here next year. You don't know if you'll be here next year.''

Andrus and Mitch Moreland are the only position players remaining from the team's first World Series team in 2010.

After hitting a career-low .263 last season, which started bad after a difficult camp, Andrus said he reported to Arizona this spring in the best shape of his career.

''I really believe that,'' Andrus said. ''This year I took it a thousand times (more) seriously than I did the year before. It's part of the growing part, knowing yourself, knowing your body a little bit more every year. I had a really good plan. Our bodies are our business. You have to take care of that year in and year out.''

New Rangers manager Jeff Banister has lauded the work he saw Andrus do during the offseason, and how he was a leader among teammates.

Even though Andrus has felt good and took grounders Tuesday, he wasn't expected to play in the exhibition opener Wednesday against Kansas City because of soreness in his left knee. The shortstop called the move ''more precautionary'' than anything else.

Andrus was admittedly out of shape when he got to spring training a year ago, after not playing winter ball for the first time in his professional career. The two-time All-Star, whose 892 career games at shortstop are already a Rangers record, had flexor tendinitis in his throwing arm early in camp. He later experienced more soreness and played only 18 spring training games.

''That was an offseason that I hope never happens again,'' Andrus said. ''In spring training I wasn't ready. I don't think my body was ready. You learn from that. I was blessed to be able to play through the whole season. ... My mentality is a whole lot different than last year. I'm a totally different animal this year.''

This season is the first of the $120 million, eight-year contract extension through 2022 that Andrus signed at the start of the 2013 season with two years left on his previous deal. There is a vesting option for 2023, but he can also opt out of after 2018 or 2019.

Along with the .263 batting average last season, Andrus scored only 72 runs - matching his career low set as a rookie in 2009. His RBI total dropped from 67 in 2013 to 41 last season while his stolen base total dropped from 42 to 27, and he grounded into a team-high 21 double plays while the Rangers had an AL-high 95 losses.

''It was a rough year,'' he said. ''Things that happened last year, not only personally, but as a team you don't want that to happen again.''

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