Just when everyone had started to think that the medical news couldn’t get any worse for the Texas Rangers, who lost 40 percent of their starting rotation on the same day last week, it got worse Thursday.
First baseman Prince Fielder, acquired in November for second baseman Ian Kinsler to bring the power back to the lineup, will undergo cervical-fusion surgery Tuesday in Dallas and miss the rest of the season.
As if that wasn’t enough, general manager Jon Daniels also announced that second baseman Jurickson Profar will miss 8 to 12 more weeks after again straining the shoulder muscle that has kept him out all season.
As doctors were delivering their bad news to Daniels, the Rangers were in the midst of a 9-2 victory to open a four-game series against Detroit. But even that win came at a cost as center fielder Daniel Robertson suffered non-displaced facial fractures after smacking into Alex Rios’ knee while diving for a Kinsler pop-up.
Roster moves are coming as the Rangers again stab at the minor leagues to find enough capable, healthy bodies to give the team a chance at the postseason.
The Rangers are telling themselves and anyone with a notepad or a camera that it’s a long season, 115 games are left, and anything can happen.
After Fielder’s injury, though, October baseball feels like it’s out for the season, too.
“It’s a challenge, and with every challenge comes opportunity for someone else to step up,” Daniels said. “I think you’re seeing guys take advantage of that. You’re not going to replace certain guys, and then when you’ve got the critical mass of injuries we have, it becomes a secondary challenge just to field a healthy talented club.
“I do feel we have talent. I do think getting a number of the guys that are rehabbing well [will help]. It is May. We’re going to stay positive and stay the course and let this team get going.”
The Rangers can’t get going without someone getting hurt. Fielder would be the 14th player to hit the disabled list, twice as many as any other team.
Many injuries have been freak, like Derek Holland tripping over his dog and Joe Ortiz having his foot flattened by a motorcycle and Profar tearing the same muscle by rolling over while sleeping.
But they are injuries nonetheless and are included in a list that includes Matt Harrison (back) and Martin Perez (elbow) being lost for the season.
There continues to be no definitive moment when Fielder first suffered the herniated disk in his neck. He said on Tuesday that he wasn’t feeling symptoms last season before the trade, which was completed without his taking a physical.
Daniels said that the Rangers wouldn’t have caught it in a physical anyway.
They had hoped that an injection he received Saturday into the pinched nerve would have allowed the strength in his left arm to return, and for a few days it did. But he was scratched from the lineup Tuesday, and at that point surgery became a serious consideration.
Fielder hit only three home runs in 150 at-bats.
“Prince wants to go ahead and get it done,” Daniels said. “Prince is frustrated not feeling like himself and feeling like he can’t help the club.
Mitch Moreland becomes the everyday first baseman. He was the only Rangers player to not collect a hit in their romp of the Tigers, but he’s batting .305 over his past 21 games and beat out a force play at second base to extended the Rangers’ four-run fourth.
The Rangers could bring infielder Donnie Murphy off the DL or add Brad Snyder or Bryan Petersen, outfielders at Triple A Round Rock. Daniels isn’t yet considering the addition of free-agent slugger Kendrys Morales and likely would wait until after the June draft to go after him so that they wouldn’t have to surrender a draft pick to sign him.
Morales, though, probably doesn’t want to come to the Rangers out of fear that he, too, would be injured.
“Our focus is getting the group of guys that is going to come back, get them ready to go, and the group of guys that are up here in the big leagues putting together a few good days this week,” Daniels said, “and see if we can build on that and then let the team come together a little bit and evaluate where we are and adjust.”
The Rangers showed Thursday that they can score without Fielder. Backup catcher Chris Gimenez had a career-high four hits, Shin-Soo Choo hit a two-run homer, and Adrian Beltre and Rios had run-scoring doubles.
Yu Darvish (4-2) benefited from all the runs, though he yielded only two in seven innings on a day that he said wasn’t his best.
“We understand that every day we’re not going to be able to score nine runs,” manager Ron Washington said. “We’re going to go a day at a time and see how it goes. That’s a big bat that we’ve lost there.”
Fielder was supposed to be the biggest bat and lead the Rangers to the postseason. That’s still the club’s hope, but October baseball feels like it’s out for the season.