Harrison hopes caution with back will lead to big year for Rangers

02/23/2014 8:21 PM

11/12/2014 3:58 PM

Matt Harrison feels 100 percent right now but knows it’s unlikely that he’ll be in the Texas Rangers’ Opening Day rotation.

Harrison flew back to Texas on Sunday and will have his back examined by Dr. Drew Dossett on Monday. However, Harrison believes the lower back stiffness he felt earlier this week was simply a result of sleeping on an uncomfortable bed.

“The bed was an issue,” Harrison said. “I switched beds and haven’t had any issues.”

Harrison is still going back to Texas for his scheduled appointment. The Rangers are taking a cautious approach with Harrison, who had two back surgeries to repair a herniated disk in late April and early May last season.

If all goes well, Harrison would be cleared to resume his throwing program next week but would be about 10 days behind. And, given his surgeries last season, the Rangers aren’t going to accelerate Harrison’s program and push him to make the Opening Day squad.

Harrison made only two starts last season and is hopeful to have the reverse happen this year. He expects to miss the season-opening series against the Phillies.

“If I only miss two and make 30 starts, that would be nice,” Harrison said.

The Rangers agree with that sentiment.

“The way we’ve built the team, we definitely subscribe to the theory we want these guys to be strong at the end of the season in starts in September and hopefully in October,” assistant general manager Thad Levine said. “Those would have more value in our minds than starts in April.”

Bunts sticking around

In an animated speech Sunday morning, Rangers manager Ron Washington made it clear that he’ll continue to put the bunt sign on this season.

The Rangers had the second-most sacrifice bunts in the American League last season, and Washington intends to implement the bunt when he sees fit. If Shin-Soo Choo leads off with a double against Cliff Lee on Opening Day, Washington said, expect Elvis Andrus to lay down a bunt.

Washington is going to take his chances with Prince Fielder and Adrian Beltre to drive in the runs.

“I do it when I feel it’s necessary, not when the analytics feel it’s necessary, not when you guys feel it’s necessary, not when somebody else feels it’s necessary,” Washington said. “It’s when Ron Washington feels it’s necessary.

“I look at the opposing pitcher. I look at the guys at the plate and the situation. I’m saying, ‘How can I give us an opportunity to get this runner where I want to get him?’ If I’ve got the right person at the plate, I’m going to make him bunt.”

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