Posted: Feb 22, 2014 12:03 PM
Updated: Feb 22, 2014 12:04 PM
SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) Mitch Moreland started thinking about the Texas Rangers roster during his 25-hour drive to Arizona for spring training.
Moreland, who as a rookie was the Rangers' top hitter in their first World Series, realized he was one of the most tenured players in Texas.
Moreland and shortstop Elvis Andrus are the only two position players remaining who played in that 2010 series against San Francisco.
Adrian Beltre joined them the next year for a second consecutive AL championship season, leaving a trio from that team.
"There's definitely been a lot of changing since then," Moreland said. "I feel like I'm still a young player trying to learn from other guys as far as major league players go."
At 25 years old, Andrus is already going into his sixth full major league season and has played 757 games nearly two full seasons worth of games more than the 28-year-old Moreland (442) and Beltre (441), who at 34 is the Rangers' oldest position player by two years.
"You realize sometimes how crazy baseball is and how everything can change in a couple of years," Andrus said. "It's crazy. That's why you have to enjoy every second, every moment of this. Because you never know what's going to happen in the future."
There are five pitchers left who appeared in a World Series game Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland, Colby Lewis and Alexi Ogando.
Bengie Molina, a catcher on the 2010 team, was hired during the offseason as the new first base coach on manager Ron Washington's staff. Darren Oliver, a pitcher on both World Series teams, is now in camp as a special instructor.
"It looks like a whole different team," said Oliver, whose initial stint working with Texas pitchers goes through this weekend. "It's funny how it's like that. Baseball, that's just the way it is these days."
Michael Young holds the Rangers record playing 1,823 games for Texas, but last season was with Philadelphia and the Los Angeles Dodgers before retiring last month. Ian Kinsler spent eight seasons in Texas before getting traded during the offseason, when Nelson Cruz and David Murphy both became free agents and didn't return.
General manager Jon Daniels said the roster turnover over the years was "largely by design" and points out that the teams they played in the World Series San Francisco and St. Louis have also had significant turnover.
"It's just the nature of the game," Daniels said. "I think you want to keep your core guys, but you've got to be mindful, it's just not practical and not good baseball to bring the same team back year after year."
In the offseason, Texas added slugger Prince Fielder, traded from Detroit for Kinsler, and free-agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo. Both are signed for seven years.
The Rangers missed the playoffs for the first time in four years last season, even with their fourth consecutive season of at least 90 victories.
"Texas, specifically, I think we've all marveled at how they've been able to turn the roster over but still keep a high level of talent, and they're in a tough division," Giants GM Brian Sabean said.
Moreland made his major league debut midway through the 2010 season after first baseman Justin Smoak was traded to Seattle in the deal that brought Cliff Lee to the Rangers. Moreland was the only Texas player to have a hit in all five World Series games that year against the Giants while hitting .462 (6 of 13).
"Our success over the last few years has kind of contributed to the guys they brought in, and how well we've kind of clicked from that day one," Moreland said.
Washington said the mindset has remained the same if even the players have changed.
"We focus on one thing, baseball, not outside influences," he said. "No matter what we have to go out there and play with, we're going to go out there and we're going to play hard and do what we can do to win ballgames."