Mike Napoli #25 of the Texas Rangers is congratulated by Mitch Moreland #18 for a three run home run against the Seattle Mariners in the sixth inning at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on May 28, 2012 in Arlington, Texas.
Ever since Mitch Moreland pleasantly surprised in replacing the ever-struggling Chris Davis at first base in late-2010 and leading the Texas Rangers in hitting in the World Series loss to the San Francisco Giants when no one else managed to touch the Giants pitching, Moreland has been a bit of a disappointment after starting his Rangers career on such a high note.
It's been a mixture of struggles against left-handed pitching and untimely injuries that have derailed Moreland's promise over the past couple of years, and there was talk over the winter of basically eliminating Moreland's role with the team by moving Ian Kinsler to first base.
Davis had his breakout year in 2012 with the Baltimore Orioles, and now Moreland is hoping to have his with the Rangers in 2013 with his job possibly on the line. If the spring is any indication, Moreland will be just fine.
The leaner version of Moreland has done his usual in the field — play really solid first base — and has hit the cover off the ball. He wrapped up Cactus League play hitting .400 with team-leading numbers in homers (4), slugging percentage (.727) and RBIs (13) with 10 of his 22 hits being of the extra-base variety.
"He's moving better, staying inside the ball and hitting to the opposite field, which is going to be key for him to stay consistent," Rangers manager Ron Washington told ESPN Dallas. "He worked hard during the winter to have good at-bats against lefties, and I think he has, so he'll see more lefties."
That's a good sign for Moreland, and the Rangers as their depth at first base is far less this year without Michael Young and Mike Napoli there to pick up time against lefties.