ARLINGTON, TX: Mitch Moreland #18 of the Texas Rangers watches the ball after hitting a solo home run in the third inning during Game Five of the MLB World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Texas Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland really struggled down the stretch and into October last year, but at least he had a pretty good excuse. And he seems to have had a pretty good winter, too. MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan:
Moreland, who had surgery on his right wrist at the end November, said he is "feeling great" and could be close to full strength going into Spring Training. Moreland was expected to need 8-12 weeks of recovery from the surgery and the Rangers expected he might be behind others when Spring Training started.
Moreland was bothered by the wrist for most of the second half of last season and the playoffs. According to what the doctor told Moreland, he had an "impact fracture" in the wrist that forced a bone out of place and it started grinding against cartilage.
"I know it's going to be better than last year," Moreland said. "It was pretty bad the last month. There were days that I would go into the [indoor batting] cage, I'd just come out for batting practice, take two, three, four swings and see how I feel. We got through it."
Right. You got through it with a .229/.297/.343 line in 41 games after July. Brilliant.
But wait! It gets better! In nine postseason games, Moreland racked up exactly three hits in 32 at-bats. Granted, two of them were home runs. Still.
It's hard to argue that Moreland cost the Rangers anything important, since they won their division and came a pitch away from winning the World Series. Maybe this situation simply points once again to the imprecision of sports medicine; presumably, some pretty smart people figured that Moreland's wrist would improve to the point where he could actually serve as a reasonably productive Major League Baseball first baseman last fall.
It just didn't happen. And it's surprising to me that nobody seems to have realized that it wouldn't happen.
Anyway, it sounds like Moreland's going to recover. If he does, we've got just one more reason to like the Rangers. His minor-league performance, his numbers after joining the big club in 2010, and his first half in 2011 all suggest a perfectly adequate Major League Baseball first baseman, particularly when there's a right-handed pitcher on the mound.