Catcher Geovany Soto became the second player in the Texas Rangers’ projected Opening Day lineup in as many days to learn that he could be out until the All-Star break.
Soto will miss the next 10 to 12 weeks after an MRI exam revealed that he has a torn lateral meniscus in his right knee that will require surgery this week.
The news came some 18 hours after the Rangers learned that second baseman Jurickson Profar would miss 10 to 12 weeks because of a torn muscle in his right shoulder.
With Opening Day less than a week away, Rangers officials will be scouring the waiver wire and poring over scouting reports to find help at positions they thought they had under control.
That isn’t how the final week of spring training is supposed to unfold.
“You can’t sugarcoat it: It was a tough day from the medical side,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “We’re dealt a tough hand there. No one’s going to feel sorry for us. Someone else is going to have to step up.”
The Rangers also revealed that outfielder Engel Beltre has a broken right tibia, and staff ace Yu Darvish is continuing to deal with neck stiffness that is threatening his availability to start on Opening Day.
He still hasn’t been pushed back, though Daniels acknowledged that there is a “moderate” level of concern about Darvish’s status. He played catch Monday, but the Rangers will wait to see how he feels this morning before moving forward.
But they didn’t waste any time on how they will move internally at catcher and second base.
J.P. Arencibia and Robinson Chirinos will open the season behind the plate, though manager Ron Washington has yet to declare a starter. Arencibia has been an everyday big-league catcher the past three seasons, but Chirinos has had the better camp.
Arencibia, though, has lifted his batting average more than 80 points to .222 with a recent surge that has included a grand slam and a double that clanged off the top of the right-field wall at Surprise Stadium.
Chirinos went 2 for 4 with an RBI against the A’s, lifting his average to .444 (12 for 27).
“He’s caught well, called a good game, and swung the bat and thrown well,” Washington said. “I feel like we’ve got a formidable tandem to get our pitching staff what they need to get through and give us a chance.”
At second base, Kensuke Tanaka, a four-time All-Star in Japan, was brought back to big league camp after being reassigned to minor league camp March 17. The Rangers resisted the temptation to do the same with top prospect Rougned Odor, who will open the season at Double A Frisco.
Tanaka, 32, was a 13-year veteran in Japan before coming to the United States last season with San Francisco, logging only 30 at-bats. A left-handed hitter, Tanaka could form a platoon with the righty-hitting Josh Wilson or Adam Rosales if his defense meets Washington’s standards.
Tanaka started Monday at second base against Oakland.
“He made all the plays that were hit to him, so he did a good job,” Washington said. “We’ll use what we’ve got and go from there.
“I wouldn’t expose anyone, and I certainly don’t want to put players in a position where they can’t succeed. We’ll just figure out how we can get the best out of whatever we leave here with, and I have no doubt that we will.”
The list of available players will grow as teams trim their rosters. Ramon Hernandez and Chris Gimenez are likely to be made available by Kansas City and Oakland, and the Rangers could use them to solidify their depth at Triple A Round Rock.
Veteran infielder Cesar Izturis is a free agent who could be had quickly.
“You have depth to handle these things,” Daniels said. “You anticipate them being in midseason and not before you get going. We’re obviously into one layer of depth.
“On one hand, we’ve got other guys we believe in here in camp. On the other hand, we want to make sure we’re not caught in a bad spot.”