Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
The Texas Rangers have struggled with injury this spring training more than any other team has. Other teams have had similarly big losses like the Derek Holland. Other teams have had major losses. The Atlanta Braves have lost Kris Medlen, the Arizona Diamondbacks have lost Patrick Corbin and the Oakland Athletics have lost Jarrod Parker, all for the season. While Texas has only lost Holland for part of the season we have witnessed many players on the Rangers struggle with minor injuries.
As a Texas Rangers fan it is tough not to panic given that many players in both the rotation and lineup have struggled with injury. However, Texas Rangers fans should put a hold on the panic. Let’s take a realistic look at what we can expect from the Texas Rangers position players who have battled injuries during spring training.
Jurickson Profar has spent most of the spring taking it easy on his throwing arm. He just began fielding his position in actual games this past week. Comments from the Rangers staff indicate that they are worried about Profar getting enough repetitions in the field to be ready for opening day. Profar already has taken many reps at second both last year in the majors and while in the minors. He is already and adequate fielder and given his high defensive ceiling Profar should mature nicely in his new(ish) position this season. The more pertinent question is going to be how much can Jurickson Profar hit in 2014? If Profar can be an average hitter he will be a significant asset to the lineup. What should we expect from Jurickson this year? The kid was a top prospect for reason and this is his first real chance to prove himself. Expectations for Profar should be healthy in 2014. He has immense talent and should reach the level of at bats where he can really produce this year.
Adrian Beltre has faced some minor injury in his lower body this spring and sat out a few games because of it. The team has said if Beltre were facing these same issues during the season that he would play through it. Every time someone doubts Beltre he comes through and Rangers fans should expect nothing less this year. The injuries are minor and unless they get worse during the season Beltre should be fine in 2014.
Elvis Andrus recently got good news about his shoulder inflammation. The Rangers starting shortstop should be ready to go around opening day or shortly there after. Andrus has been healthy most of the spring and has gotten his reps in so he should be sharp after only a brief time off to let his shoulder heal.
Shin-Soo Choo has fought injury all spring and as far as position players go he has had the most worrisome spring training. Choo has played little in the spring and although he is veteran enough that missed spring training games would not be a concern for his eventual timing, injuries with an older player always carry a concern for his long term ability to stay healthy and productive. Once a player starts having significant injury problems it is particularly difficult to stay healthy, especially once a player is older. Choo has not been battling big injuries so it seems like concern should be low once Choo shows he can still play at a high level during the regular season.
Mitch Moreland sustained an oblique injury last week but it appears he will be ready for opening day. Moreland has had a chance to field multiple positions during the spring in anticipation of playing a utility role during the season. One continued frustration with Moreland is that injuries throw off his timing at the plate for extended periods. When going well Moreland can be an excellent hitter; consider his pre-injury stats from last year, but once an injury forces him to miss significant plate appearances he quickly loses his timing and struggles to get it back. Hopefully, this minor issue will prove to have no effect on Moreland going into the season. One mitigating factor is that Michael Choice has powderized the ball during the spring and should be the right handed compliment to Moreland at designated hitter to open the season. If Choice continues to hit well once the season starts the team may not need Moreland to be at his best, however beneficial that may be.
What is left of the lineup has been mostly healthy which should bode well for the Texas Rangers going into the season. Thoughtful baseball fans know that spring training stats and performance mean next to nothing for established ball players, like most of the Rangers’ lineup. Only players trying to break into the 25 man roster need to really perform during spring. However, health is an important thing to protect in spring and the Rangers have badly failed to do so in 2014. Most of the injuries, to the position players anyways, appears to be minor irritations that should be non-factors so long as players do not re aggravate them once the season starts. Remember that teams are extraordinarily careful with their players during spring. There is no need to have a player play through anything more than mild discomfort. Things that a player might not even mention during the regular season suddenly become reasons to sit a player in spring training. Precaution is a good thing during spring.