ARLINGTON, Texas — After 12 years of playing for the Rangers, Elvis Andrus returned to Texas to play against them for the first time in his career.
It was an emotional day for the 32-year-old shortstop, but one Andrus had time to prepare for since the Rangers and Oakland A's were just meeting for the first time at nearly the halfway mark of the season.
"It's not easy," Andrus told reporters prior to Monday night's game. "There are so many great memories I had here in Texas. I know as soon as the game starts, it will come back for sure."
And it did.
The Ranger faithful gave Elvis a warm welcome during the announcement of the starting lineups, but that was just a precursor to the standing ovation he received in the second inning. Elvis stepped out of the box, raised his batting helmet to a crowd of 20,259 fans that cheered loudly for one of the most beloved Rangers of all time.
Though his focus is with his new club, Elvis took the time to acknowledge the memories that he and the fans in Arlington hold dear.
“Everything was here,” Andrus said. “My dreams came true here, I had my first kid, the World Series, all those memories, man. It’s hard to forget about it. They're always gonna have a great place in my heart. And being back on the other side feels weird, but I’m really happy [with] where I'm at right now.”
Andrus is with the Oakland A's, who have sat atop the American League West most of the year, after the Rangers pulled off a trade in early February that helped kick the rebuild into full gear. The Rangers were fully committed to having Isiah Kiner-Falefa as the everyday shortstop, and the club was able to work out a trade so Andrus — the last remaining member of the 2010-2011 AL championship teams — could go to a contender and compete for a shot at a World Series title. It's a trade that seems to be working out for both parties at the moment.
"He's doing really good. I'm glad," Andrus said of Kiner-Falefa. "We all knew how good of a player he is. I'm really [happy] for all those guys. ... I wish nothing but the best for everybody in the organization."
The business side of baseball can be painful. But if anything was confirmed on Monday night, the relationship between Elvis and the Rangers is completely amicable. Elvis took time to visit with many of his former teammates, exchanged pleasantries with Rangers chairman Ray Davis before batting practice, and did not shy away from speaking openly with reporters about the impact the past 12 years had on him, on and off the field.
“I came as a kid and got out as a man," Andrus said. "I brought a lot of great memories to this franchise. I was always proud to be a Texas Ranger and will always be. I think that it’ll never go away. Nobody will take that away."
More on SI's Inside The Rangers:
- Ibáñez Homers, Rangers Power Past A's 8-3
- Woodward On Rangers' Struggles: "The Fans Need To Know What's Happening"
- Curtis Terry Raking In Triple-A, On Rangers' Radar
Like 'Inside The Rangers' on Facebook