No hope left for more Rangers’ pitching help

Posted Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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lebreton A week ago, they all were said to be well down the road to recovery.

It was just a matter of time, the reports said, before Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison and Neftali Feliz all rejoined the Texas Rangers’ pitching staff.

Their surgeries were done. Their rehabs, we thought, were in their final stages.

When Colby returns, we optimistically conjectured, which young pitcher is destined to get sent down?

But this is why I never applied to medical school.

“You got to let them make it through the process,” Rangers manager Ron Washington mused before Monday’s game. “No matter what they do, you have to make it through the process.

“People were trying to put a date on their return. But it doesn’t work like that.”

You can’t rush the healing process, Washington was saying. A pitcher’s rehab outing is only as good as how his arm feels the following morning.

In Harrison’s case, there was numbness in his left hand. Lewis experienced triceps tendinitis. Feliz, trying to come back from Tommy John elbow surgery, has been bothered by the same thing.

In their daily injury updates for the media, the Rangers weren’t trying to deceive anybody. This isn’t football. The encouraging prognoses came after the Rangers had consulted with team doctors and therapists.

“You’ve got to let them make it through the process,” Washington repeated, after learning that lefty Harrison would be lost for the season. “Unfortunately, Harry’s back didn’t allow it.”

Of the injured three, only Feliz still has a chance to return to a big league mound this season. He will pitch a bullpen session Thursday after having a setback while warming up Sunday.

Washington didn’t need a reminder, but the plight of his pitching staff has given him one, anyway.

“You can never have enough pitching,” he said. “Never. We’ve proven that.

“Our young kids had to hold us together in the beginning of the season. Finally, we’ve got some guys back.”

Pitchers Alexi Ogando, Martin Perez and Joakim Soria were all on the disabled list earlier in the season.

Soria missed all of the 2012 season for Kansas City after undergoing Tommy John elbow surgery in April of that year. Rangers closer Joe Nathan had the Tommy John operation in March 2010 and didn’t pitch for 18 months.

You can’t rush the healing process. There are always exceptions. But most aren’t as old as Lewis, who just turned 34 and may be facing a total hip replacement.

The trade for Matt Garza, as it turns out, wasn’t just a bold move for the pennant run. It was a necessity.

Garza will make his fifth start Wednesday night since being acquired from the Chicago Cubs.

Washington likes what he’s seen so far.

“It’s what I’ve always seen from him,” Washington said. “he’s a competitor. He’s a front-line guy. When he gives the ball to the bullpen, it’s the eighth or ninth inning.

“He wants to win. He lets his emotions go when he’s out there between the lines, and I love that about him.”

If nothing else, Washington and his team knows where it stands, pitching-wise, after Monday’s news.

No Lewis. No Harrison. No one else to ride to the rescue.

The pitching cavalry is already here.

The season’s numbers suggest that it’s not the best pitching staff in the American League, but rookies Nick Tepesch and Justin Grimm (since traded) started 33 of the Rangers’ 120 contests.

What is left has a chance to be as good as anybody’s staff in the final six weeks.

Doctors permitting, of course.

Gil LeBreton, 817-390-7697 Twitter: @gilebreton

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