The Texas Rangers will be without their most consistent starter from last season until at least the All-Star break.
Matt Harrison will undergo surgery for a herniated disk in his lower back on Tuesday, and recovery following that type of surgery generally takes 2 1/2 to 3 months.
Harrison was placed on the 15-day disabled list on April 11 with an inflamed nerve in his lower back and received multiple injections that didn’t help as expected.
“I’m definitely frustrated because I’m not out there doing what I love to do on an everyday basis,” said Harrison, who signed a five-year, $55 million extension in the off-season. “At the same time, I didn’t have any control over what happened. It’s not like I jumped off a roof trying to jump into or pool or doing something stupid. It just happened.”
Harrison, 27, was examined by back specialist Drew Dossett and Rangers physician Keith Meister in the Metroplex and went to Los Angeles for a second exam by Robert Watkins.
All concluded the symptoms were not improving and surgery was advised. Dossett will perform the surgery.
“The percentages with this type of surgery are very good,” Rangers general manager and president of baseball operations Jon Daniels said. “But obviously we want to get through it and make sure that it goes as expected before we put any hard timetable on it.
“You lose any of your guys, it’s never good news. If everything goes as expected, we’ll get him back in the second half along with [Neftali] Feliz. That’ll hopefully be two pretty big second-half additions for us. But no doubt we’ll miss him in the meantime.”
Harrison doesn’t know specifically when it happened or if it originated from a toe injury that forced him to miss a start in spring training. He believed he could pitch through it by making adjustments, but it didn’t work out.
Harrison got the Opening Day nod but went 0-2 with an 8.44 ERA in his first two starts.
“The release point was inconsistent every pitch, and I couldn’t find a way to make it consistent,” Harrison said. “So I’m not doing myself any favors or the team any favors if I keep trying to pitch through it.”
Harrison has been healthy the past two years. His last DL stint was in May 2010 with left biceps tendinitis. He had thoracic outlet syndrome surgery in 2009 that cost him the final three months of the season.
“It’s definitely been a while [since a DL stint], and I wish it would’ve been longer,” Harrison said.
It’s a significant loss for the Rangers, who didn’t have a player (Feliz) land on the DL last season until May 21. Harrison was the most consistent starter, going 18-11 with a 3.29 ERA and making his first All-Star team.
“Hopefully he can get back as soon as possible and finish the year off the way he expected it to go,” second baseman Ian Kinsler said. “There’s nothing else you can really say other than we’re going to miss him.”
Added manager Ron Washington: “I don’t know how to describe it, but I wouldn’t call it a gut punch because I’m not going to lose my breath. It’s a loss, but we’re not going to lay down because of it. We’re going to fight just as hard, and we’re not going to make excuses.”