What was the one thing that we, as Texas Rangers fans complained about last season? Not getting runs behind our ace pitching staff. Last season we had had a top-notch starting rotation, great relief pitchers, a setup man that was outstanding in helping the closer. So, why didn’t win more? Simple, the lack of runs. The Texas Rangers undoubtedly would have at least made it to the postseason if we support behind the pitching.
The offseason took some of our best and beloved Texas Rangers; however, it also gave our Texas Rangers a group of men that have been outstanding in previous years, top prospects and some award contenders. By the time Spring Training approached, I had gotten over my tantrum, accepted the new players and looked forward to seeing what the new Texas Rangers team will do. But then something happened. SPRING TRAINING.
We are one week into Spring Training and have already been plagued by injuries. In case you haven’t heard, a few of the Texas Rangers are down and some are already out for some time. Let bring you up to speed on the recent events.
Left-Handed Pitcher Derek Holland injured his knee and underwent surgery in January and is expected to be out until at least mid-season. Second baseman Jurickson Profar entered Spring Training with right shoulder soreness due to tendinitis and was put on restrictions during camp then cleared on February 17 to throw and swing again, but still on VERY light duty. Right-Handed Pitcher Tanner Scheppers was scratched from practice on February 18 due to back spasms and his return is TBD. Outfielder Alex Rios is day-to-day due to a sore left toe. Right-Handed Pitcher Neftali Feliz is on light throwing duty in concern due to shoulder tightness. Catcher Geovany Soto had arthoscopic surgery on Saturday to remove a bone on his left ankle and is expected to be out for three weeks. Left-Handed Pitcher Matt Harrison was sent to Dallas for a MRI after mentioning neck/lower back stiffness, fortunately the MRI did not show any significant problems and today Harrison is feeling better; however, he does not plan on making the Opening Day rotation.
Matt Harrison said it’s unlikely that he’ll be ready by Opening Day. Said it’s worth giving up a start or two in April to be healthy in Oct.
— Drew Davison (@drewdavison) February 23, 2014
That is a lot of injuries to think about in only the first week of Spring Training. I was solely concerned about getting the runs and not too worried about pitching. However, that has started to change. I think with the additions of Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo we should get the hits. Not to mention home runs by Fielder in the hitter-friendly Rangers Ballpark. If Michael Choice can get enough playtime I think he will help the lineup with his raw batting power.
With Jurickson Profar’s status being day-to-day I’m glad that the Texas Rangers invited Roughned Odor to camp, as he is the most likely candidate to replace Profar if needed. Odor is only 20-years old but is already a solid hitter
having hit .305-11-78 with 41 doubles and 32 steals between high Class A and Double-A in 2013.” (Sporting News 2014 Baseball Yearbook)
Geovany Soto should be ready to play by Opening Day, but if not, the Texas Rangers signed J.P. Arencibia. Although his batting average (.192) would suggest he is not an adequate replacement, he did hit 21 homers last season and has said that he is working with Rangers batting Coach Dave Magadan to improve his approach and slow things down to get more hits.
Again, my concern is pitching. Who will replace Derek Holland until mid-season, if he does indeed come back then? What if Tanner Scheppers isn’t cleared to play on Opening Day? Matt Harrison has already said Sunday that he does not plan on being ready on Opening Day, so who will earn his spot?
I think Colby Lewis will earn the fifth spot on the starting rotation, maybe Ron Washington could move him up to the fourth and Matt Harrison down to the five to give him some extra time without having to miss too much. If not, Michael Kirkman or Tommy Hanson could be given the chance based on what Mike Maddux and Ron Washington see at Spring Training.
I am still unsure of who will earn the replacement spot for Derek Holland. One thing I am sure of, Texas Rangers need to continue to proceed with caution when it comes to the health of all the players. I’m hoping that the Texas Rangers are getting injuries now so they will be out of the way and everyone will remain healthy down the stretch and fingers crossed, into the postseason!
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