SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers went through their normal pitchers' fielding practice on Sunday. Derek Holland later found himself going through a personal one-on-one session with manager Ron Washington at the end of the team's workout.
Washington is serious about the Rangers' pitchers becoming better fielders. He made that a priority coming into camp, and he's following up on it during every workout. Washington takes great pride in his ability to teach defense, and never hesitates to work hands-on with any player.
"I'm working with all these guys," Washington said. "If I see someone who needs work, I'm going to do it personally."
Washington also did some fielding drills with infielder Alberto Gonzalez. Gonzalez was signed as a non-roster player, and could be the leading candidate to be the Rangers' utility infielder.
"He's got good hands," Washington said. "He can pick it up."
Beimel shut down with left-elbow stiffness
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers have their first pitching nicks of Spring Training.
Left-handed reliever Joe Beimel has been shut down for a minimum of 2-3 days because of stiffness in his pitching elbow. He will be re-evaluated in the next few days.
Beimel is the most experienced left-handed reliever in camp, and the second most experienced pitcher in camp. He has pitched in 567 games over the past 11 years with the Pirates, Twins, Rays, Dodgers, Nationals and Rockies -- and is one of the candidates to be a left-handed setup reliever in the Rangers' bullpen.
He spent last season with the Pirates, but was sidelined from May 28 to July 15 because of inflammation in his left elbow. He ended up pitching in just 35 games, his fewest since 2005, and his 5.33 ERA was the highest of his career. Opponents also hit .321 against him.
In a five-year stretch from 2006-10, Beimel made 358 relief appearances as a left-handed setup reliever, and was 13-12 with a 3.20 ERA -- while holding opponents to a .264 batting average.
Right-hander Matt West also skipped throwing a live batting practice session because of elbow fatigue. He will try again on Monday.
Andrus getting veteran treatment
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Manager Ron Washington can be tough on shortstop Elvis Andrus. Washington is a former shortstop who takes great pride in his knowledge of infield play, and he stayed on top of Andrus over the past three years. He even pulled him out of a game in Minnesota last year when he thought Andrus was too lazy on a throw to first base.
"I don't let him get away with anything," Washington said. "If I do, I'm not doing my job. I see things that others don't see. When I do, I bring it to his attention."
But Washington said this spring he wants to let up on Andrus. His shortstop has been in the big leagues for three seasons, and Washington wants Andrus to be able to take care of himself.
"I'm going to treat him like a veteran," Washington said. "I want Elvis to be his own policeman. I think he's established himself to the point where he understands what he's supposed to do, so we're going to give him some leeway."
Cruz shares favorite things about his culture
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Outfielder Nelson Cruz was one of several Rangers who attended the Dominican Festival on Saturday night in Phoenix. Adrian Beltre, Julio Borbon and Elvis Andrus also attended the Gran Gala Dominica, which celebrates the culture of the Dominican Republic.
Monday is Dominican Republic Independence Day. In honor of his home country, Cruz shared his five favorite things about the Dominican Republic's culture:1. Carnival - "We do that every Sunday from the end of January to the end of February. It's fun, big parades, people wearing masks, music and a lot of singing."
2. Winter ball - "Very competitive and fun. There is nothing like it ... good baseball, good fans, very intense fans."
3. Beaches - "Our beaches [are] great. We love our beaches, and they're all different. You have the Caribbean beaches and the Atlantic beaches -- some the waves are big and some are nice and calm."
4. People - "Dominican people are very friendly and they are very generous. They are always there to help tourists."
5. Food - "Rice and beans, of course, but also pork and chicken, plantains, soup ... we cook a lot of different things. Also fruit, mangoes are good, mangoes are sweet. I kill mangoes."
Pitching coach Mike Maddux said Michael Kirkman threw well in live batting practice. Said Maddux, "He threw the ball over the plate with movement. He had three quality pitches."
Maddux also liked right-hander Greg Reynolds, who was acquired from the Rockies this winter. Said Maddux, "He had a good four-pitch mix going."
Andrus remains limited while waiting for his left heel to recover. He had a Plantar's wart removed on Friday.
Former Rangers outfielder Daryl Hamilton, who works in the Commissioner's Office, will meet with them on Monday morning. The subject will be umpires.
The Rangers will meet with representatives from the Players Association on Tuesday. The Rangers are without a player representative. C.J. Wilson held that role before signing with the Angels.
Former Rangers pitcher Akinori Otsuka was in camp visiting on Sunday. He was the Rangers' Pitcher of the Year in 2006, but his career came to an end because of an elbow injury the following season.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.