SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) After missing the first 13 games of spring training while recovering from sports hernia surgery in November, Elvis Andrus returned to shortstop for Texas, playing four innings without a fielding chance and going 0 for 3 Saturday as a Rangers split squad beat the Chicago White Sox 5-1.
''I hear games are a little quiet,'' Andrus said. ''It's kind of easy for me to turn it up a little bit. It's always good to get back on the field and bring that energy. I'm really happy with the way I feel today. I just try to get better every single day now.''
Andrus grounded out twice and struck out. When Joey Gallo's helmet tumbled off after a two-run single in the third inning, Andrus joked with his power-hitting teammate.
''I think the helmet was a little surprised he hit a base hit rather than a bomb,'' Andrus said. ''I was playing around with him. I let him know that getting base hits is kind of fun, too. It's part of the game.''
Texas started spring training 2-10 in Andrus' absence.
''It just shows how much we miss him really, in the dugout, on the field, his presence and everything that he does,'' Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. ''We're a winning ballclub when he's playing. I felt good about the at-bats he had and his presence on the dirt. I thought he had a good day.''
Andrus injured his groin last May, and the hernia developed in July. Still, he set career highs with a .302 batting average, .432 slugging percentage, .369 on-base percentage, eight home runs and 69 RBIs.
''It was crazy, but it actually helped me in my swing,'' Andrus said . ''I couldn't shift with my hips. When I was swinging, it made me stay back because every time I shift my hips it was a lot of pain. I was able to control my lower body. I was able to stay back pretty much the whole year.''
He also knew surgery was possible after the postseason.
''It was 50-50 percent but I knew for me to feel good again for my legs to feel good I need that surgery,'' he said. ''I was really happy to do it and the results after that have been amazing.''
While Andrus grew impatient sitting, he knew it was wise.
''I'm really excited actually to start playing,'' he said. ''For now it's about playing every single day and keep getting better in every area of my game. The most important one is to stay healthy. I try to use all this time off to get it right. It's all about getting my legs right, getting my body right and be ready for April. I feel good.''