Familiar faces returning for Texas Rangers


Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

It certainly was good to see Colby Lewis return to the mound for the Texas Rangers a couple weeks ago, and the same goes for Matt Harrison today.

When the season started, there were a whole lot of unfamiliar bodies and faces filling those blue and white uniforms we have gotten so accustomed to.

But the familiar ones are popping up here and there.

Adrian Beltre returned on Friday, as well, and the Rangers are still waiting to see how Shin-Soo Choo’s balky ankle feels over the next couple days.

While I’m referring more to those Rangers who have been a part of the team for a few years now, I think we can all agree that Choo has already become a beloved presence – both in the lineup and in the clubhouse.

While the team still waits for the returns of Derek Holland, Jurickson Profar and Geovany Soto – which won’t start happening in succession until June, at least – it’s nice to see the aforementioned Harrison and Lewis return to the rotation.

The worry with pitchers recovering from injury, however, is it might take two, three or even four starts before you can be certain of their health.

Lewis is through three starts and, while manager Ron Washington has had a short leash with him so far, he has had no recurring issues.

Harrison is making his first start today.  He made a few starts in the minors to build up his pitch count to begin the year, but the Rangers want to see him get through starts one, two and three.

The stresses of Major League pitching doesn’t start weighing themselves on starting pitchers until – that’s right – they start pitching again in the majors.

Yes, seeing Harrison toe the rubber today has been a Godsend, but hold your breath until he gets through start number three.  That’s when you’ll know for sure if he is healthy.

But what a great sign it is to see these guys return to action.

The starting rotation held itself together just long enough thanks to Martin Perez, Yu Darvish and – oddly enough – Robbie Ross.

Darvish, we expected.  Perez, we half expected and hoped for.  Ross, eh, we really didn’t know.

Darvish is pitching like, well, Darvish.

Perez is currently, if you look around the league, one of the top pitchers already.

And Ross has become a very effective, crafty groundball left-hander who can record quick outs.

With the returns of Lewis and Harrison, the hope is Tanner Scheppers can slide right back into a setup or middle relief role in the bullpen and – while he’s shelved on the disabled list right now due to fatigue – Neftali Feliz might get to make his own return in the near future.

The Rangers sit in first place in the division right now at 15-9, 1/2 game above the Oakland Athletics.  When Spring Training began, everyone expected the Rangers to be right in it from beginning to end.

An injury epidemic shelved so many of their prominent players and primary role players, expectations fell — and rightfully so.

But the Texas Rangers have more than held their heads above water and they look like a team that can survive and contend.

It all looks up from here.  Familiar faces are returning, and they are faces the Rangers have needed to see for almost a year and a half now.