ARLINGTON -- The kid was a hit in his first game in the Major Leagues and in front of a sellout crowd at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Elvis Andrus, the Rangers' 20-year-old shortstop, had a crucial double in his first big league at-bat and helped turn two double plays in the field. He wasn't spectacular but did everything needed in the Rangers' 9-1 victory over the Indians on Opening Day. "I tried to let the game come to me, and everything went good," Andrus said. "After the first hit or the first out you get, everything calms down. It was a good start for me."
Andrus' first Major League hit came in the bottom of the second against last season's American League Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee. The Rangers had already taken a 2-0 lead on a two-out, two-run single by Jarrod Saltalamacchia when Andrus dropped a soft line-drive down the right-field line. The ball fell inside the line for a double. Saltalamacchia went to third on the play, and then both runners came home on a two-run single by Ian Kinsler. "Everybody talks about his age ... but Elvis is a baseball player," manager Ron Washington said. "We have confidence in him, and today he showed he has confidence in himself." Defensively, Andrus found himself in the middle of things right away in the top of the first inning. After Kevin Millwood walked Mark DeRosa, Victor Martinez hit a lazy ground ball to Kinsler. Kinsler, wanting to make the sure play, was a bit slow getting the ball to second, but Andrus made a quick turn and a strong throw for an the inning-ending double play. Andrus, playing almost right behind second base, turned another double play in the top of the fourth to get Millwood out of a first-and-third jam. DeRosa's grounder was right at him, and Andrus was able to make the routine play of stepping on second and firing to first for the double play. Routine? Yes. If he bobbles it though, he may get just one out and the run scores. Making the routine play and turning the double play is what Washington wants from his shortstop. Andrus did that on Monday. "I have been working a lot with Ian during Spring Training, and we got those two opportunities today," Andrus said. "You have to make those plays. That's a routine ground ball." Andrus made a slicker play in the fifth, ranging far up the middle to grab Shin-Soo Chin's grounder and firing to first for the out. "It's baseball," Andrus said. "It's different being here on this level with professional hitters and they know what they are doing, but it's still baseball. It's still ground balls. You just go after it aggressively and get the out." Andrus is replacing Michael Young at shortstop. Young, a Gold Glove winner, moved to third and did well in his first real game at the position. He had a couple of tough plays on slow rollers by Ben Francisco in the third and Grady Sizemore in the sixth. He made both by charging aggressively and getting off a strong quick throw. "Mike made some great plays out there," said Hank Blalock, who started at designated hitter for the Rangers after seven straight Opening Days at third base. "It was fine out there," Young said. "I'm not where I want to be as a third baseman, but I'm getting there. I have a long way to go, but I'm getting there." Everybody has a long way to go after just one game, especially a rookie, but Andrus was able to get off to the right start in his first game with the Rangers.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.