Left-handers Matt Harrison and Martin Perez could be done for the season after receiving the worst possible news on their injuries.
Harrison has more back issues with significant nerve irritation. It’s vertebra-related, not disk, known as spondylolisthesis, and would require him to undergo spinal fusion surgery to relieve it. The chances of him returning from that surgery aren’t great, but it has been done.
The other option is to live with it and try to pitch through it. However, there is no telling how difficult that could be.
If that diagnosis wasn’t bad enough, the Rangers also announced that Perez has a partial tear in his ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow. He has a couple options, including undergoing season-ending Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery. Or he could go through a non-surgical rehab, receiving an injection and being sidelined 10-12 weeks.
It ranks among the biggest blow this season for the Texas Rangers in a year full of injuries.
The Rangers started the season a starter short when Derek Holland tripped over his dog and required microfracture surgery on his left knee, costing him at least half the season. Then Yu Darvish began the season on the disabled list with neck stiffness.
The injuries continued with Tanner Scheppers (right elbow inflammation) and Joe Saunders (stress fracture in left ankle) landing on the DL, as well as now Harrison and Perez.
“Just the sheer number of injuries is startling,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “We’ve had a combination of everything. I consider Martin’s injury a baseball injury. We’re hardly the only club going through it.
“Nobody is crying for us and we’ve got other guys prepared to step in. But you feel for the players. It’s definitely a challenge.”
The Rangers will move rookie Nick Martinez back into the rotation, leaving them with a starting five of Darvish, Martinez, Colby Lewis, Nick Tepesch and Robbie Ross.
Saunders could become an option soon, too, and Holland is continuing to progress.
As far as Harrison and Perez, they are each weighing their options.
Harrison, who exited in the second inning Tuesday with back stiffness, will receive an injection on Friday to try and alleviate some of the symptoms before making his decision. He underwent two back surgeries a little more than a year ago on a herniated disk in his back and this was among the worst side effects that could have happened.
This latest setback appears to be career-threatening for Harrison, but Daniels wasn’t ready to say that.
“I wouldn’t want to characterize it that way,” Daniels said. “The fact is there aren’t a lot of guys who have had this and I feel for Matt. It’s a blow to the club, but he’s worked extremely hard to come back from surgery and has done everything by the book and then some.
“The odds aren’t great [with spinal fusion surgery], but I’m hoping he’s the exception and able to make it back. He hasn’t yet chosen what path he’s going to go down.”
Perez, 23, reported discomfort in his left elbow after his start on Saturday and an MRI revealed the partial tear that was confirmed by Dr. James Andrews.
Perez and the Rangers are doing their due diligence on what the best route has been in the past.
“Just seeing guys who have chosen to rehab it and their successes,” Daniels said. “We’re doing some homework and not sure we have the answer yet.”
Despite the rash of injuries, Daniels still believes this team can reach its goals.
“We’ve just got to see how we weather the storm,” he said. “You don’t change your expectations. I’m not going to sell our club short. It’s going to be more challenging to get it done, but I think it’s plausible.”