Wasn’t the Texas Rangers’ injury-riddled 2014 supposed to end when the calendar turned over to 2015? I guess no one told Jurickson Profar.
Late last week the Rangers told the world that Profar would likely miss the entire 2015 season due to shoulder surgery. This is the same shoulder that kept Profar out for all of the 2014 season and the shoulder that Profar opted not to have surgery on last September.
This sounds like the equivalent of a black cat scurrying in front of the Rangers’ season before it even starts, seeing as spring training isn’t even a week old.
If there’s any good news here, it’s that although losing Profar hurts the Rangers, they’re covered.
Last year became such a lost season for the Rangers that it’s easily quantified in three numbers — 2,281, 61 and 38. Those numbers represent the number of game days the Rangers lost to injury in 2014, the number of overall players used and the number of pitchers used.
The first total was tops in the majors. The second and third totals set Major League records.
The Rangers lost starters like pitcher Matt Harrison (146 games), first baseman Prince Fielder (120 games lost), outfielder Shin Soo-Choo (34 games), pitchers Martin Perez (120 games) and Derek Holland (141 games), designated hitter Mitch Moreland (100 games), pitcher Yu Darvish (46 games), and catcher Geovany Soto (110 games).
It also included players that could have softened the blow of some of those injuries, such as third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff (141 games), outfielder Engel Beltre (162 games), pitcher Tanner Scheppers (104 games) and Alexi Ogando.
It seemed that 2015 couldn’t be any worse than 2014 for the Rangers. Then along came Profar to ruin that happy thought.
The narrative shortly after the announcement was criticism of Profar and the Rangers that the young infielder didn’t have surgery in September. Profar was provided the option of surgery or the option of rehab, and Profar chose the latter in the hopes that he could be ready to play in 2015. That obviously didn’t work out.
It’s easy to play revisionist history and say that Profar should have had the surgery, or the Rangers should have forced him to have the surgery. But having been around professional athletes the past 20 years, I can tell you two things: First, it’s always the player’s decision to have surgery. Second, athletes and general managers are not fans of surgery as a rule and consider it a last resort. Rangers general manger Jon Daniels said as much when he spoke to the media this weekend about Profar.
“[Rehabbing to return in 2015] was somewhat his mentality,” Daniels told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “He felt he had a chance to avoid it and have a better chance to contribute this year.”
If there’s any good news here, it’s that although losing Profar hurts the Rangers, they’re covered. Profar’s absence last season gave the Rangers a chance to accelerate Rougned Odor’s development, and he responded with an encouraging .259 batting average, nine home runs and 48 RBIs. He’s the starter at second base while Elvis Andrus will once again man shortstop. The Rangers will take a long look at youngster Hanser Alberto, an infielder with great speed and a sharp glove, to see if he’s ready to assume a backup role.
Just as good to hear is that the rest of the Rangers’ infielders on the 40-man roster — including Fielder and Moreland — are healthy and ready as training camp approaches.
Funny thing about black cats. Sometimes there’s time to avoid them.