Matt Harrison shut down after experiencing back stiffness

Posted Friday, Feb. 21, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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Tough stretch

Things haven’t gone well for Matt Harrison since signing a contract extension with the Rangers.

Jan. 17, 2013: Harrison and the Rangers reach a five-year, $55 million extension.

March 31, 2013: Harrison is the Rangers’ Opening Day starter vs. Houston.

April 6, 2013: After allowing five runs over five innings in a loss to Angels, Harrison undergoes MRI that reveals inflamed nerve in his lower back.

April 11, 2013: Harrison placed on the disabled list.

April 23, 2013: Harrison undergoes surgery for a herniated disk in his lower back, which was performed by Dr. Drew Dossett.

May 1, 2013: Harrison undergoes a second surgery on an additional part of the herniated disk.

Sept. 9, 2013: Harrison has third surgery of the year on his right shoulder to alleviate thoracic outlet syndrome. He had the same procedure done on his left side in 2009.

Tuesday: Harrison has a stiff neck and doesn’t throw his scheduled live batting practice early in Rangers’ camp.

Thursday: Harrison leaves camp to have an MRI on his lower back, and is expected to fly back to Texas for further examination.

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Matt Harrison has been shut down from baseball activities after experiencing lower back stiffness on his right side.

Harrison was scheduled to have an MRI exam Thursday. He was then scheduled to return to the Dallas-Fort Worth area for further evaluation Monday by Dr. Drew Dossett, who performed both of his back surgeries for a herniated disk. Harrison required two surgeries — one in late April and another in early May.

Harrison began his throwing program earlier than expected this off-season and didn’t encounter any setbacks, reporting to Texas Rangers’ spring training ready to win his spot back in the rotation.

That still could happen, but this is not a good sign.

“Not a big alarm, but a little bit concerned,” Harrison said. “I just hope that it’s not a serious issue and something I can take a few days down and stay on top of my core program and get right back out there. Hopefully that’s the case, but it’s not fair to say that I’m not worried about it, because I’ve had a lot of issues recently.”

Rangers general manager Jon Daniels and manager Ron Washington are hoping for the best.

“Hopefully this is irritation involved with getting going and he can push through it,” Daniels said. “After what he went through last year and the two surgeries, I feel for him.”

Said Washington: “No reasons to have concerns yet. We’ll just wait and see how it plays out.”

Harrison, 28, made only two starts last season before undergoing the back surgeries. He had a third surgery later in the season for thoracic outlet syndrome. He dealt with neck stiffness Tuesday, but Harrison doesn’t believe this latest setback is related to that.

Harrison has become a little more cautious with these types of injuries and wasn’t going to argue when team physician Keith Meister suggested he get an MRI and head back to DFW for more evaluation.

“I know how it ended up last year, having surgery, and I may have pushed it too far last year,” Harrison said. “So we’re still in spring training, get it taken care of now.”

The Rangers entered spring training with the mindest that Harrison would be a key member of the rotation.

Harrison had a career year in 2012, earning an All-Star bid and landing a long-term contract, but it’s been a rough stretch since then.

The Rangers are already down a starter, too, after Derek Holland underwent microfracture surgery on his left knee. Holland injured his knee in January during a freak accident, tripping over his dog while running up the stairs.

For now, the Rangers’ rotation includes Yu Darvish, Martin Perez and Alexi Ogando. Harrison had been penciled in it, too, if healthy.

Nick Tepesch, Colby Lewis and Tommy Hanson are also in camp competing for rotation spots. And the Rangers are stretching out relievers Robbie Ross, Tanner Scheppers and Michael Kirkman as starters to give them looks.

“If for some reason the worst happens [with Harrison], we’ll move on,” Washington said. “We’ll get out of here with five starters and five starters we believe in.”

Drew Davison, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @drewdavison

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