Spring Training 2014 hasn’t been kind for the Texas Rangers. Injuries have been spreading through camp, costing many players important reps. The rash of injuries shows no signs of letting up. So the question has to be asked, is it time to adjust our expectations for the team based on what we’ve seen so far?
The infield has been hit the hardest as three-fourths of the projected starting unit has missed significant time. Adrian Beltre‘s injuries appear to be the least bothersome and it has been said that if it were the regular season, he would play through. However, it will bear watching if it nags him throughout the season. An arm injury has kept Jurickson Profar from playing in the field until recently. That’s a troubling development for a player that Ron Washington has repeatedly said needs reps to settle into his position. It appears certain at this point that 1B/DH Mitch Moreland will start the season on the disabled list.
Then there is the Elvis Andrus situation. Initially thought to be minor, it now appears that Elvis’ arm injury could be more serious. The Rangers can’t afford to lose Andrus for an extended period of time. Not only is he the premiere defensive shortstop in the league, but he is also a catalyst on offense. Even though Kevin Kouzmanoff and Brent Lillibridge have both had big springs for the Texas Rangers, neither of them should be expected to replace an injured Andrus.
In the outfield, new lead-off man Shin-Soo Choo has been limited due to injury this spring, often reduced to a DH role. Choo is a veteran who should be fine without a lot of time in the field this spring. Again, though, will his injuries continue to nag him? Leonys Martin is a bigger concern. That starting center fielder is, like Profar, a young guy who needs reps and at-bats to settle in. Anything that hampers his development could become a big issue for the Rangers. Luckily, the Texas Rangers have options, such as the promising Michael Choice.
Ron Washington needs his offense to be as explosive as predicted because with so many questions surrounding the Texas Rangers pitching staff, the offense might have to carry the load. When discussing Texas Ranger pitchers, it is best to play the MASH theme in the background. The questions never seem to stop. Will Colby Lewis ever be able to pitch competitively again? When will Matt Harrison and Derek Holland be back, and will they be the same? Where is Neftali Feliz‘s velocity? Can Tommy Hanson recapture his past form? Can young guys like Robbie Ross and/or Tanner Scheppers step in and stay healthy?
Injuries are a fact of life for all Major League teams. Often, how well a team addresses such issues will determine how far they will go. In this regard, the Rangers are far alone. However, the Texas Rangers enter the 2014 season with October dreams. Jon Daniels spent a lot of money to shore up the biggest weakness from last year with the post season in mind. To have injuries derail those dreams would be a tragedy.
I’m by no means giving up. The season hasn’t even begun yet. However, I must admit that I’m nowhere near as optimistic as I once was. Right now, there are just too many question marks in too many places. How about you? Has the rash of pre-season injuries tempered your expectations for this year?