The Texas Rangers are not picked by many to win the American League Western Division this season and spring training has not helped their case. Injuries to key players have come in bunches and there is no sign of let-up. Today it was announced that Yu Darvish will not make the Opening Day start against the Phillies due to stiffness in his neck. Second baseman Jurickson Profar will miss 10-12 weeks because of a torn muscle in his shoulder. Also catcher Geovany Soto will also miss 10-12 weeks following a torn meniscus in his right knee.
The Darvish injury is a “wait and see” deal. Since it has to do with the neck the Rangers will be very cautious moving forward and will not rush their ace back before he’s healthy. MLB.com reporter T.R. Sullivan quoted manager Ron Washington:
“We want to get him right physically and mentally. We don’t want him out there trying to pitch, and in the back of his mind he knows something is wrong and he’s trying to gut it out. We certainly don’t have a target date on when he will pitch again. We’ll just see where it goes.”
The Rangers other injury issues will be dealt with more directly as they are for sure going to miss substantial time. The Rangers are saying that they will seek to replace from within. J.P. Arencibia and Robinson Chirinos are the two catchers left on the roster and Arencibia has the most experience. He came from Toronto in the off-season and while he had a poor season in 2013 (.194, 21 homers, .227 OBP), an opportunity like this in a new setting could prove beneficial.
Chirinos spent last season in Triple-AAA and has found favor with Washington in the spring so far:
“He’s done everything. He has caught well, called a good game, swung the bat and thrown well. I feel we have a formidable tandem to get our pitchers through their innings and give us a chance.”
Soto was the backup for A.J. Pierzynski last season and saw part-time action; in 54 games last year with Texas, he hit 9 homers with 22 RBI while batting .245. So the Rangers may not miss a lot offensively from Soto, but anytime a starter goes down adjustments must be made and things do not always go smoothly.
To replace Jurickson at the second base position, the Rangers are also looking to fill that position from within. As of now the Rangers will platoon Josh Wilson and Kensuke Tanaka. Wilson is strong defensively and Tanaka was just brought up from minor league camp.
Injuries have been a part of the Rangers spring since the beginning. Adrian Beltre, Mitch Moreland,and Matt Harrison have all been injured during spring training. Relief pitcher Neftali Feliz is still rehabbing from Tommy John surgery last season. Derek Holland had knee surgery just prior to spring training.
The Rangers have the odds against them to begin with, but the injuries are not doing them any favor in Vegas.