The Texas Rangers’ 2014 season has already suffered an injury setback.
Left-handed starter Derek Holland underwent left knee surgery Friday morning after falling at his home earlier this week and will probably be out until midseason.
Rangers physician Keith Meister performed the arthroscopic surgery to repair torn cartilage in Holland’s knee. No ligaments were injured.
“I’m devastated by this injury,” Holland said in a statement. “It was a freak accident at home that resulted in a hard fall on my knee. As upsetting as this is, my goal is to begin rehab and get back on the mound as quickly as possible.”
The long-term prognosis for the 27-year-old Holland is positive, general manager Jon Daniels said, but it does leave a significant hole at the front end of the Rangers’ rotation to start the season.
Daniels said the Rangers are looking at acquiring more starting pitching depth, but indicated that they are unlikely to go after a big-ticket pitcher still on the open market.
The most prized pitcher available is Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, but he is expected to require a nine-figure investment.
Other notable free-agent starters include Matt Garza, who went 4-5 with a 4.38 ERA in 13 starts with the Rangers last season, and Ervin Santana.
The Rangers payroll is already expected to be in the $130 million-$135 million range.
As Daniels said Friday while speaking at a Rotary Club of Fort Worth luncheon at the Fort Worth Club, “We’ve spent our budget and then some.”
That means the Rangers are expected to fill Holland’s void internally. Nick Tepesch, the fifth starter last season, will be given a look, as well as Colby Lewis, who missed last season with injuries.
Daniels said the team will also stretch out relievers Robbie Ross, Tanner Scheppers and Michael Kirkman in spring training. The club has three non-roster invitees with big-league starting experience in Jose Contreras, Justin Germano and Ryan Feierabend as well.
Daniels expects there to be more candidates, but “it will be more in the depth category than really replacing somebody at the front end of the rotation.”
For now, the Rangers’ expected rotation includes Yu Darvish, Martin Perez, Alexi Ogando and Matt Harrison. They all come with question marks, though.
Darvish had a nerve problem in his lower back at the end of last season; Perez will be in his sophomore season; Ogando had three stints on the disabled list last season; and Harrison missed most of last season after undergoing two back surgeries and another surgery to alleviate thoracic outlet syndrome in his right shoulder.
Holland, meanwhile, will have limited activity for six weeks, and Daniels said the team is operating as though Holland won’t be ready until midseason.
Holland and Darvish were the top two pitchers for the Rangers last season, each surpassing the 200-inning mark. Holland went 10-9 with a 3.42 ERA with 189 strikeouts in 33 starts.
“It’s not good news, but I look at it as an opportunity for some other guys to seize that chance,” Daniels said.
Briefly• Holland will not make his scheduled appearance Saturday at the team’s winter caravan stop with the Frisco RoughRiders from 1:30 p.m.-3 p.m. at Dr Pepper Ballpark in Frisco. Shortstop Elvis Andrus has been added to the group that includes pitchers Scheppers and Shawn Tolleson, outfielder Michael Choice, Triple A manager Steve Buechele and former infielder Mark McLemore.
• Daniels, speaking to the Rotary Club of Fort Worth, restated that the Rangers are “highly unlikely” to re-sign slugger Nelson Cruz. “I think he’ll have a better opportunity [elsewhere],” Daniels said.
• Lewis is rehabbing well from hip resurfacing surgery and has thrown off a mound 3-4 times so far this off-season, Daniels said.