According to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, back surgery is now likely for Texas Rangers third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff. According to Grant’s article, Kouzmanoff is experiencing tingling in his legs, prompting Ranger’s spine specialist Dr. Drew Dossett to recommend surgery.
This is a huge disappointment for Kouzmanoff, who was one of the brightest spots on an otherwise disappointing Texas offense. His production helped hold the Rangers over while regular third baseman Adrian Beltre recovered from his own injury and he was on pace for a career-best season.
The injury is likely to keep Kouzmanoff out for up to twelve weeks, though back injuries can be tricky, especially for a 32-year-old. Even if he does come back, it is unlikely he will be the same player that he was before the injury. He would likely need a rehab assignment to work his way back into playing shape.
As for the impact to the Rangers, they are fortunate that Beltre was ready to return. As long as his legs hold out, Beltre should help replace Kouzmanoff’s production.
In the event that Beltre needs to be spelled, Josh Wilson and Donnie Murphy are both available to provide a spot start at third. Should another injury occur, the recently optioned Luis Sardinas would most likely get the call to rejoin the team.
Texas does have a promising young third baseman in Frisco, Ryan Rua. Rua is hitting .347 with 5 homers and 12 RBIs for the Roughriders this year, but the club would probably prefer to keep him in the minors for more seasoning if they can.
A bigger concern is at DH, where Kouzmanoff was likely headed with Beltre’s return. Without him, the disappointing Michael Choice will continue to rack up at-bats as the right-handed DH. Choice has yet to rediscover the stroke he showed in Arizona, but at this point, Texas really has no other options at DH given Mitch Moreland‘s career struggles to hit left-handers.
Regardless, the loss of Kouzmanoff is certainly a disappointment. Kouz was quickly becoming a fan favorite and one of the best stories of the young season. Hopefully he will recover quickly and pick up where he left off.