Texas Rangers starting pitcher Derek Holland knows some people may be skeptical of how he suffered a knee injury that will keep him out possibly until midseason.
Holland retold the events during a telephone conversation Saturday, saying he injured his left knee by falling down a few stairs while playing with his dog, Wrigley, on Tuesday morning.
The left-hander also shot down rumors that he might have injured the knee during a recreational hockey game on Monday night.
“The story seems fake, but I know what happened,” Holland said. “Yeah, I play hockey but I didn’t get hurt playing hockey. It’s not like a real hockey league, it’s a no-contact league and I use it more as a workout for my lower body and legs. It’s not like I’m out there trying to be a hero and become an NHL player.”
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Instead, Holland said he was messing around with his dog after breakfast when the injury occurred. Holland said his dog clipped him while running up the stairs, his knee slammed into the top step and he grabbed onto the railing to avoid further injury.
“It actually could have been a lot worse,” Holland said.
Holland visited Rangers team physician Keith Meister later in the day, and an MRI revealed torn cartilage in Holland’s knee. Holland underwent surgery Friday.
He will be on crutches for about six weeks but has started range-of-motion exercises. Holland hopes to get back sooner than the midseason timetable the team is operating under.
Possible rotation options
With Holland out for at least the start of the season, Tanner Scheppers is among several internal candidates the Rangers will look at to fill the rotation void.
Scheppers emerged as a dependable setup reliever last year, but has been instructed to prepare his body to start.
“I want to do both,” said Scheppers, making an appearance at the Rangers’ first winter caravan stop at Dr Pepper Ballpark in Frisco. “It’s not really my decision to make. I feel like the people that are in that position will tell me what to do.”
Scheppers has pitched exclusively in a relief role in the majors, but started eight times in the minor leagues. To make the jump to the rotation, Scheppers knows he’ll have to develop another pitch to go along with his fastball and breaking ball.
Other internal candidates include Nick Tepesch, Colby Lewis, Robbie Ross and Jose Contreras.
The team is also exploring external options, but general manager Jon Daniels said the Rangers are unlikely to sign a “big ticket” option. However, they could pursue a lower-profile pitcher as starting depth.
A name that is being discussed is former Angels pitcher Jerome Williams, who is looking for a chance to start full-time on a one-year deal in hopes of building his stock going into next year’s free-agent market. Williams, 32, has gone 19-18 with a 4.46 ERA in 79 games, including 46 starts, the past three seasons with the Angels.
Choice comfortable with role
It appeared the trade for Michael Choice from the Oakland A’s would give the young outfielder his first shot at being an everyday player.
Then the Rangers signed free-agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, leaving Choice, a Mansfield Timberview and UT Arlington alumnus, with what appears to be a downgraded role of right-handed DH and fourth outfielder.
To Choice, the move to sign Choo did nothing but make the team better, which is his main concern, even though it might delay his chance to be an everyday starter.
“Obviously, it’s probably going to delay it a little bit,” Choice said. “Like anywhere you have to earn a job. No one is going to give it to you. In your career you have to go out there and prove that you’re worthy of it.”
New double-play tandem
Much has changed in the world of Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus over the off-season and that’s not including the long, but well-groomed, beard he’s worked on over the past three to four months.
The Rangers traded second baseman Ian Kinsler to the Detroit Tigers for slugger Prince Fielder, leaving Andrus without the double-play partner that weaned him into the major leagues.
“It means a lot,” Andrus said of Kinsler’s departure. “Besides my partner, he was my buddy and he was one of the guys that welcomed me. He always made me feel comfortable in the field. It’s going to be a little bit sad, but at the same time it’s a business and you’ve got to keep playing.”
Now, it’s Andrus’ turn to help break in a young middle infielder in Jurickson Profar.
“Same thing I did with Ian in the beginning, we’ll do the same with Jurickson,” Andrus said. “Make him feel comfortable and let him grow and keep getting better and better.”