ANAHEIM -- Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus was in a playful mood before Thursday night's game against the Angels, acting the role of class clown and drawing rounds of laughter throughout the visitors' clubhouse at Angel Stadium.
He borrowed a microphone and did an interview in something resembling Japanese with Yu Darvish as the starting pitcher lounged on a couch. The interpreter finally gave Darvish's response: "I'm pitching tonight. Leave me alone." Andrus kept the room in laughter, moving on to other players with his instigating ways.
"Elvis likes to have fun," veteran Michael Young said, watching with amusement from a corner of the clubhouse. "He's as good as I've seen with the off/on switch. When it's time to play, he's ready. He loves to compete. He'll have a bad at-bat and get fired up, but it'll last about 10 seconds. He moves on great.
"What people don't realize is how big a kid he is. When he starts to develop, he'll be wearing out the gaps. He'll probably never be a 20-25 home run guy, but with his natural swing path, he'll hit a lot of doubles and triples and knock in a lot of runs.
"Elvis is a great player -- and a great teammate. He speaks two languages and keeps everybody loose. He talks to every guy on the team."
Surrounded by MVP candidates and high-profile veterans, Andrus sometimes gets lost in the shadows. But the Rangers understand his value fully.
"It's just a matter of being in his fourth year in the league," Young said. "He's one of the best shortstops in the game, especially when you consider that he's getting better offensively. He has great instincts for the game. He's aggressive but knows when to take a step back.
"I think he's going to be a leader for a long time. He's that kind of player and person."
Andrus is hitting .291 with a .353 on-base percentage and .388 slugging percentage. He has 29 doubles, nine triples and three homers, driving in 58 runs while scoring 80. He has 20 steals.