Matt Harrison still not likely to return soon


Apr 6, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers starting pitcher Matt Harrison (center) meets on the mound with catcher A.J. Pierzynski (12) and pitching coach Mike Maddux (31) during the first inning against the Los Angeles Angels at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

If you’ve been reading what I have to say about Texas Rangers left-handed pitcher Matt Harrison recently, then it shouldn’t be a surprised that it is doubtful that he’ll return anytime soon.

Soft mattress: Harrison has been hit with setback since day one in spring training.  If you recall, after a day of throwing a few pitches and a night’s rest, he woke up the next day with soreness in his back.  He flew back to Dallas examination and everything was negative.  He was given the green light to ramp back up after he determined it was simply a soft mattress that caused the back issue.  That issue delayed his progress about 2 weeks and by spring training Harrison wasn’t ready to return.  The exhibition game in the Alamo Dome against the Houston Astros was a prime example.   Harrison pitched that game very poorly allowing 5 hits, 4 earned runs, and 2 walks.  He was finished after 3.0 innings, which wasn’t a huge surprise because he wasn’t set to go deep.

We got cows: Shortly after his outing against the Astros, the Texas Rangers and Ron Washington announced the Opening day starting rotation, Matt Harrison wasn’t on it.  Again, no surprise that he didn’t make the rotation.  Everyone was  very optimistic about him making the rotation since mid-offseason, but with the 2-3 weeks setback in spring training it was obvious he wouldn’t make it.

Harrison was put on a 30-day assignment to do rehab work with the Frisco Rough Riders.  His first outing there wasn’t going very well either, almost similar to what he did in the Astros game.  It appeared he was having a bit of command issues after the first inning.  He allowed two runs in the first and things were looking like he would have a high pitch count early in the game.   He was scheduled to go 4 innings/65 pitches, but incoming storms would postpone.  He did have a good second inning only needing 9 pitches, but in the third he he allowed a lead off double, but then Mother Nature ended the game.  Overall, he seemed to have issues with his command and his velocity dropped to about 88-92 MPH from where 90-93 MPH back during spring training.

Some good some bad: Since that rocky start against Mother Nature, he has had a good start and a bad start.  Most recently another rocky start.  During his last game on April 14 he was again hit hard and often.  Over 3.1 innings/77 pitches (30 of them in the first inning) he allowed 6 hits and 2 earned runs while only striking out 2.  Harrison hasn’t pitched in the ideal situations recently, it has either been stormy, raining or cold, all of which have huge impact on a player.  One thing that Harrison will need to do before he’s back on the major league roster is to make it deep in a game and reach 100 pitches.  So far he hasn’t been able to do that.  He is likely to have 2 or 3 more starts with the Frisco Rough Riders before he’s ready.  If that is the case, then his likely return is around the first week of May.  That is about 2 weeks behind where intended target of April 26th.

Will he be ready? If the weather is nice and he’s able to get his pitch count up with his normal velocity and command he’ll be back by then.  How well he do once he returns?  Don’t expect too much for a few outings from Harrison.  It will take a couple of times to get back into the rhythm of a major league game against major league hitters.  Can he do it?  Yes, I expect after he knocks what ever rust is still left on him he’ll be fine, but right now it’s hard to say if the Rangers will ever see the old Matt Harrison.