Found March 01, 2013 on
Fox Sports Southwest:
SURPRISE, Ariz. On the day Ron Washington had to scratch starting shortstop Elvis Andrus because of muscle soreness brought on by a new tattoo, the Texas Rangers got their first win of the Cactus League season. But with apologies to Lance Berkman and Jurickson Profar, the most important performance Thursday came from starting pitcher Derek Holland.
For the Rangers to have any hope of contending for a playoff spot this season, Holland needs to look like the guy who dominated hitters in the second half of the 2011 season. He lost his edge in 2012 and gave up way too many long balls. This past offseason, he vowed to take a more serious approach. He decided to cancel his weekly radio show and not spend so much time trying to entertain folks away from the field.
Now, he's preparing to leave the Rangers this weekend to join Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. That's the reason he became the first Rangers pitcher to throw four innings in a game Thursday. He used an effective changeup to keep Cleveland hitters off balance while scattering three hits and no runs over four innings. When there was the hint of trouble, he induced a double-play ball in the second inning. And he should've only given up two hits since he could've easily been charged with an error on a misplayed ball.
Holland believes that playing in ultra-competitive games in the WBC will only make him sharper when the Rangers' season begins later this month. He didn't have a good grasp on the Team USA roster when I talked to him Thursday, but he'll have a chance to see everyone when the ballclub meets in Scottsdale on Sunday.
"With some of these teams will be playing, it will be like facing the Angels over and over again," Holland told me. "I guess the WBC sort of replaces Olympic baseball, although I hope they bring that back at some point.
The Rangers continue to have faith in Holland, although their patience grows thin at times. Nolan Ryan told ESPN 103.3 on Wednesday that Holland was "lackadaisical" at times last season. But he and pitching coach Mike Maddux worked together a lot over the winter. When Holland wasn't attending Mavs games he's a glutton for punishment he was in the weight room getting stronger. And though Holland vowed to get his priorities in order, his manager doesn't want him to change his personality.
"I certainly don't want Derek to change who he is," said Washington. "If goofiness comes with it, then it comes with it. In Derek's case, it's just about focus."
When it comes to Holland, Washington has taken a hands-on approach. He'll jog out to the mound to remind Holland to stop trying to be cute and just finish off hitters. The two have a very unique relationship, as evidenced by how Washington playfully slaps his pitcher on both sides of the face before some games.
"The good thing about Derek, he can get two outs with the quickest," Washington told us on ESPN 103.3. "But then he has trouble with that third one. Thursday's game was an example of his growth going into 2013 and I certainly loved what I saw."
Holland might remind some Rangers fans of Bobby Witt, who had tremendous stuff but had trouble with consistency. The Rangers believe that Holland is prepared to rebound from a poor 2012 campaign.
Yu Darvish and Matt Harrison should have the Nos. 1 and 2 spots nailed down coming out of spring training. If Holland returns to his 2011 was, this rotation has a chance to be pretty special.
On Thursday, he blew away an Indians team that brought most of their every-day players to Surprise. It's certainly too early to say he's turned the corner, but with his stuff, it's OK to have big expectations.
"He worked hard this winter with Mike Maddux the whole time and he's reaping the benefits right now," said Washington. "And he showed today that he's already in game shape."
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
STINK OVER INK
Texas Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus reportedly will miss Thursday's spring training game because a new tattoo is causing him discomfort.
Texas Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus, who showed off a huge new tattoo of his late father on Twitter Wednesday, was out of the Texas lineup Thursday because of sensitivity in the area.
Texas manager Ron Washington said Andrus was originally supposed to play but was scratched because of the tattoo on his left arm. Washington said he was glad Andrus decided to get the work done in...
Texas Rangers right fielder Nelson Cruz has been hospitalized over what team doctors diagnosed as a muscle strain in his chest.
Assistant general manager Thad Levine said Friday that Cruz was sent to a hospital to rule out anything more serious than a muscle problem.
Cruz was set to leave Sunday to join the Dominican Republic for the World Baseball Classic. He leads the Rangers...
The Texas Rangers have added another title to general manager Jon Daniels' business card.
The club promoted Daniels to president of baseball operationsgeneral manager Friday. Daniels will continue with his GM duties and still report to team president Nolan Ryan. Texas also promoted Rick George to president of business operations. He had been the club's chief operating officer...
Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels has gotten a new title.
The Rangers on Friday announced that Daniels has been promoted to president of baseball operations/general manager. He says his role will remain the same.
Texas said chief operating officer Rick George also got a promotion, and will now be the team's president of business operations.
When Daniels became the...
Texas Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus has been scratched because of what the club called ''sensitivity in his left arm'' - apparently caused by a tattoo.
Andrus spent nine hours the two days before Thursday's spring training game against the Indians under a needle. He wanted a likeness of his late father, Emilo Andrus, who died in 1996 when Elvis was 7.
Texas Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus was scratched from spring training action on Thursday because of an injury. As we know, injuries that occur during spring training often have hilarious stories attached to them. Most of them seem to typically involve pitchers, but Andrus has made an exception.
Elvis apparently decided to get some new ink on his left arm recently. What does that...
If only we were kidding. The Texas Rangers had to watch as Elvis Andrus missed a game against the Cleveland Indians because his arm hurt too much from the giant Tattoo his just got. You ever wonder how some of theses guys manage to make it onto a major league ball club?I mean come on these guys get paid a lot of money to show up and play baseball, something every kid thinks about...
SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) -- Lance Berkman singled, walked and scored two runs in his Rangers' spring training debut, a 10-0 win over the Cleveland Indians on Thursday that gave Texas its first exhibition victory this year after an 0-5 start.
Berkman, who was limited to 32 games last year with St. Louis and needed two knee operations, was held out of the first six exhibition games...
The odd injury train keeps rolling on. Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News reported earlier today that Texas Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus was scratched from the lineup today because of a new tattoo that was apparently still very sensitive and creating some issues in regards to comfort.
Andrus posted a picture on Twitter of his newly-inked left arm last evening, featuring...
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- Matt Harrison bounced back from a rough first outing to throw three scoreless innings and the Texas Rangers went on to beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 7-1 on Saturday.
The left-hander, an 18-game winner last season, allowed three hits in three scoreless innings. In his first start last Sunday, Harrison threw 40 pitches in one inning, allowing four runs on...