Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
The Returning Wounded
Mitch Moreland will be the Rangers designated hitter. That’s a thought that causes a little concern. Moreland hits about 20 homers a year and has never hit above .275 in a season. The issue is that Moreland is very obviously a Major League quality player – but where do you put him? He’s been a first baseman, but Prince Fielder now owns that. He was a pitcher in college and played some outfield… What do you do with Mitch Moreland?
Watch for – Good instincts and some timely hitting.
Watch Out For – Returning from season ending ankle surgery, Moreland has looked like he’s ready this spring. Time will tell.
Shin-Soo Choo and the Rangers are both looking for value from the 130 million dollar deal they made to acquire Choo. He gutted his way through a series of nagging injuries through 2014 and saw his production crater. His batting average dropped 40 points and his on base percentage almost 100. No one was more happy to say goodbye to 2014 than Choo. This year his talents move to right field.
Watch for – Choo has an almost mystical ability to get to first base. He can hit to get on, take the walk and gets hit by pitches at a painful rate.
Watch Out For – Choo’s rehab has reportedly gone well but with last year’s issues with his triceps, elbow and off season ankle surgery, there’s a lot of recuperation that had to happen.
Prince Fielder has always been a horse – the man averaged 162 games a year – 158 starts would be slacking. So, last year’s turn as the big injury that let the air out of the season, turned into a time of rest and rediscovery after his neck fusion surgery (see Manning, Peyton W. for reference.) The Big Guy sounds like he’s fit and ready to come back to the game with a stronger body and a revitalized love of the game.
Watch For – Homers and lots of ‘em. If Fielder returns to form, the Rangers could have a middle of the lineup that can put serious hurt on the opposing bullpen.
Watch Out For – The Neck. He’s stronger and fitter, but the true test is at the plate against big league pitchers.
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