No one in baseball, no less at Texas Rangers spring camp, should be surprised that first baseman Prince Fielder, the game’s current Iron Man, has not made an appearance on the daily injury report.
The surprise is that the eight other players in the Rangers’ projected Opening Day lineup have.
The Rangers have been swarmed by nagging injuries at the Surprise Recreation Campus. The latest two came Monday night as shortstop Elvis Andrus again felt tightness in his right elbow and designated hitter Mitch Moreland left with tightness in his left oblique muscle.
The issue with their injuries is the timing. Only 12 days remain until Opening Day. At the very least, they will miss out on some of their final spring at-bats as they shift into high gear for the regular season.
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The worst case is that they won’t be available March 31 against Philadelphia. But, as of Tuesday afternoon, the Rangers weren’t allowing themselves to move into panic mode.
“Just the sheer number of nicks we’ve had, we haven’t really seen the group come together yet,” general manager Jon Daniels said.
“There’s still time for that, but not a lot. Nicks at this time of spring a lot of times mean starting on the DL. We’ve got to be at least somewhat concerned about our ability to get the whole group out there on Opening Day.”
The most concern was with Moreland, who left Monday before the third inning after feeling his oblique tighten after a throw from left field. The Rangers only late last week saw right fielder Alex Rios return to the lineup after missing more than a week with an oblique injury.
Moreland worked out during the late morning Tuesday, and the Rangers have not scheduled an MRI to see if there is a more severe muscle strain. He is listed as day-to-day.
“It’s something that you have to take easy,” Rios said of an oblique injury. “It’s something that can stay with you.”
Andrus, who felt similar elbow discomfort earlier in camp, will be evaluated Friday by Dr. Keith Meister and won’t throw until then. Andrus downplayed the severity of his injury even though manager Ron Washington said the shortstop’s throws this spring haven’t been as strong as they usually are.
The Rangers scratched Andrus from their late game against the Chicago Cubs, but as his split squad went out for its pregame workout, Andrus was unaware that he wasn’t playing.
“Really? I didn’t see that yet,” he said. “I felt good. I’m OK. Nothing to worry about. It’s good. I’m good.”
Andrus was challenged on consecutive throws in the second inning Monday, one that barely beat Pedro Ciriaco for an out at first base and another from the hole on a Norichika Aoki grounder that short-hopped Fielder and was ruled an error.
Even after leaving the game Monday, Andrus told Washington that he would play Tuesday. As such, Washington didn’t seem overly concerned, but was alarmed at the volume of injuries the Rangers have faced this spring.
“It’s injuries that they’re going to get past, hopefully get past by the time we start the season,” Washington said. “This is not typical. You have some injuries, and hopefully they’re early and you get past them. I just don’t have any reasoning behind it.”
Even if the injuries prove to be more severe than Andrus is letting on and if Moreland is sent for an MRI that reveals an injury requiring a lengthy recovery, Washington is going to keep moving forward.
“I’m not going to sulk,” he said. “I’m just going to put what we’ve got out there and go play.
“You can’t show signs of panic. We’re going to put healthy bodies out there. Sometimes it might not be the bodies that you had intended being out there, but I don’t think anyone cares. We’ll put them out there and fight with what we’ve got until we get back what we want to fight with.”