Texas Rangers

March 21, 2014

Not an epidemic, Rangers fans, it’s spring training

Commentary: Texas players and coaches aren’t worried about the mounting nagging ailments.

Yu Darvish isn’t injured, though he was a surprise guest on the Texas Rangers’ daily injury report Friday and scratched from a minor league start that was intended to build his pitch count to 95.

The right-hander said that the neck stiffness he is dealing with will be gone in a couple days, allowing him to make another spring start next week and to have no problems making his scheduled start Opening Day.

Elvis Andrus and Mitch Moreland, who joined Darvish on the medical report, are also on track for the March 31 season opener. So is Shin-Soo Choo, Adrian Beltre, Jurickson Profar, Alex Rios, Leonys Martin, Geovany Soto and just about every other Rangers players who at some point this spring has dealt with some sort of physical ailment.

Soto needed surgery to remove a small, troublesome bone on his left foot. That’s an injury. Everything else has been minor, nagging, typical spring ailments that most would play through in the regular season.

Those nicks, though, have grown and grown into worrisome season-wrecking injuries, no doubt in part because of the diligent beat writers’ mad Twitter and reporting skills.

Meanwhile, the players and manager Ron Washington are about as worried as Warren Buffet is about giving away that billion dollars.

This is spring training, people. That, essentially, was the refrain from the Rangers’ clubhouse Friday.

“If I’m not worried, you guys should have no worries,” Andrus said. “We all go through this, especially the arms. You can work as much as you can in the off-season, and you’re still going to be sore.

“For me, it’s just spring training. It’s going to happen. No one is going to be 100 percent.”

The problem with Andrus’ and Choo’s elbows, Moreland’s left oblique and Darvish’s neck is the timing. The Rangers have a little more than a week until their season opener and only a week of exhibition games for the absent players to make up for lost time.

Andrus spent his Thursday and Friday afternoons bouncing between the Rangers’ Triple A and Double A games, taking at-bats whenever he wanted. J.P. Arencibia joined him Thursday, but the main thing ailing the catcher is his swing.

Moreland could be asked to do the same thing. Darvish is scheduled to start the Cactus League finale Wednesday, five days before the Rangers face Philadelphia at Globe Life Park.

“I’ll still have time to get the work in,” said Moreland, the Rangers’ designated hitter.

Rios has caught up after missing eight games, also with an oblique injury. He said that his injury wouldn’t have required a DL stay, only a few days off, if he had been injured in May instead of March.

The Rangers aren’t experiencing an epidemic. They’re experiencing spring training.

“I don’t see them as injuries,” Rios said. “These are things that happen after a while. It’s not going to be an issue once everyone gets ready.”

Darvish said that his neck started bothering him Thursday morning after sleeping on it awkwardly. He expects to return to baseball activities no later than Monday.

Anyone worried that he might not be ready needs to think back to only last year. Darvish was scratched from a March 18, 2013, start because of neck stiffness and came within out of a perfect game in his first regular-season start.

This bout of neck stiffness isn’t as bad as last year’s version, he said.

“I’ll be fine for Opening Day,” Darvish said. “I’ve covered almost everything I wanted to cover in spring training. So as far as a setback, I don’t think there is one.”

Not even the volume of these supposedly common nicks has anyone with the Rangers on high alert, and the daily reports have actually shrunk as the spring has gone along. The recent additions, however, have been big.

But Dr. Keith Meister took at look at them Friday and saw no major issues. Plus, it’s spring training, even if Opening Day is fewer than two weeks away.

“This is spring training,” manager Ron Washington said. “These are nagging, little soreness. There’s more of it, and it’s happening at the wrong time. But we’ll get past it. I feel strongly that we’ll have them for Opening Day.”

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