The injury that put Jeff Baker on the Texas Rangers’ bench Friday night and could land him on the 15-day disabled list will go down as an all-timer in club history.
But the utility man, who rates as one of the Rangers’ hottest hitters, isn’t laughing.
“I wasn’t happy about it,” Baker said.
Baker is out with a sprained right thumb that was the result of a high-five gone wrong Thursday before the start of the series opener against Toronto.
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He is unable to grip a bat, let alone swing one, and throwing is no piece of cake, either. He is hoping to avoid an MRI machine, but that possibility is on hold until the swelling goes down.
“Yesterday before the game an overexcited teammate gave me a high-five, and it bent the thumb from my hand back to my wrist,” Baker said. “It stinks.”
But if Baker is forced onto the disabled list, it could be a way to keep Jurickson Profar on the roster when second baseman Ian Kinsler returns from the disabled list as soon as Sunday.
It would solve what some see as a dilemma, but general manager Jon Daniels doesn’t consider Profar a problem.
“The question that keeps getting asked is, ‘What are we going to do with Profar?’” Daniels said. “It’s not about that. It’s, what are we going to do for the team? What’s the best team we can field? How can we get the most out of our players one through 25?”
Profar entered Friday batting .417 (5 for 12) after the first four games of the homestand but was batting .229 (11 for 48) in his past 13 games. The Rangers are discussing how to utilize him each week to give him enough at-bats to avoid stunting his development.
One prevailing thought is to use Profar to give Kinsler, shortstop Elvis Andrus, third baseman Adrian Beltre and designated hitter Lance Berkman rest so that they are fresh for a possible pennant chase.
“It’s not about one player,” Daniels said. “It’s about the club and putting the best team out there on a nightly basis.”
The Rangers’ struggling offense was without its No. 1 lefty specialist against Toronto portsider Mark Buerhle. Baker, a right-handed hitter, entered Friday as the major league leader in home runs, slugging percentage and on-base plus slugging against lefties.
Daniels is hopeful that Baker, who declined to throw his assailant under the bus, can avoid the DL. While Baker was in no mood to joke around about his freak injury, Daniels tried to add some levity to the situation.
“I give a nasty high-five,” he said. “I sneak in pregame and give high-fives, and I hurt Baker’s hand. When it rains, it pours, right? You’re a little banged up, you’re scuffling a little bit, and then you have a freak injury like that.”