Kevin Kouzmanoff, among the hottest hitters for the Rangers and in the game, continues to experience back soreness and flew back to Texas on Thursday. He will be examined by back specialist Drew Dossett on Friday morning.
After the exam, the Rangers will make a determination whether Kouzmanoff needs to go on the disabled list, general manager Jon Daniels said.
That is among the more significant injury news Daniels provided on a conference call Thursday. He also gave a positive update on outfielder Shin-Soo Choo (sprained left ankle), who is reporting improvement and likely won’t require a DL stint.
Neftali Feliz also received good news. The reliever has only general soreness in his right elbow, with no structural issues, after an exam by team physician Keith Meister. Feliz was placed on the minor league disabled list and is expected to resume throwing early next week.
The worst diagnosis, though, came on left-hander Pedro Figueroa, who has a torn ligament and flexor tendon in his left elbow. Figueroa will undergo Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery next week, which will effectively end his 2014 campaign. He had the surgery in 2010 as well.
“Not the news anybody wanted to hear,” Daniels said. “Feel terrible for Pedro.”
As far as Kouzmanoff and Choo, Daniels said the team will have to make a determination Friday with Adrian Beltre returning from the DL.
Kouzmanoff is batting .362 with eight extra-base hits and 10 RBIs in 13 games, filling in admirably for Beltre. Choo is also swinging the bat well, but hasn’t played since leaving Monday’s game.
Daniels is OK going short-handed for a game or two, but doesn’t want to put manager Ron Washington in too much of a bind. If Kouzmanoff and Choo are deemed healthy and available, the Rangers would likely send infielder Luis Sardinas back to Double A Frisco.
Former left-hander Darren Oliver has been seen around several Rangers events recently, from the off-season pitching camp to spring training. Now he has an official title with the club – special assistant to the general manager.
Oliver is expected to work closely with Jon Daniels and the front-office staff in a variety of roles with an emphasis on pitching. The 43-year-old has already spent a couple days this week working with the minor leaguers at Double A Frisco.
The Rangers and Oliver feel that his 20-year career, which ended last season, gives him instant credibility.
“A lot of players nowadays want to be associated with someone who played in the big leagues and they might be more honest with me than someone else,” said Oliver, a Southlake resident. “That’s valuable. I probably would be the same way if I was a young kid.”
Said Daniels: “Darren is a very well-respected member of the Rangers family already … and I think he’s going to be a real asset to us in a variety of roles. He’s had a lot of unique turns in his career and each one of those allows him to connect to each guy a little different.”