The Texas Rangers will open the 2014 season in only seven days, and they suddenly find themselves looking for someone to start at second base possibly until the All-Star break.
Jurickson Profar, who became the heir apparent to three-time All-Star Ian Kinsler in the off-season, will miss 10 to 12 weeks after Dr. Keith Meister diagnosed a torn muscle in Profar’s right shoulder Sunday afternoon.
Surgery isn’t required to repair the teres major, which stretches from the armpit to the top of the humerus bone, but Profar won’t be allowed to do any baseball activities for four to six weeks.
This injury is different than the one that was causing shoulder tendinitis during the off-season and that had limited him from playing second base until last week. He felt the new discomfort Saturday after making a sixth-inning throw to first base.
Now, the Rangers are scrambling to find Profar’s replacement with Opening Day just a week away.
“He’s our everyday second baseman and somebody who we had every expectation was going to take a meaningful step forward in his career and be part of our 2014 campaign,” assistant general manager Thad Levine said.
“You have to turn to your scouts and player development guys when these types of things happen and rely on the depth that you create. The good news is that Dr. Meister feels this is something he can come back from completely and that he should be a weapon for us in the second half of the season and maybe even a little bit earlier.”
The Rangers likely will consider five players who were part of big-league camp before searching outside the organization for help.
Utility players Josh Wilson and Adam Rosales remain in camp and are battling for a spot on the bench. Brent Lillibridge, another utility man, was reassigned to minor league camp Saturday but started at second base last year on Opening Day for the Chicago Cubs.
Kensuke Tanaka, sent to minor league camp last week, was a four-time All-Star at second base during a 13-year career in Nippon Professional Baseball. The Rangers’ top second base prospect is Rougned Odor, who was part of the first round of cuts March 10 and has played only one month above Class A.
Wilson is the better defensive player of the group, manager Ron Washington said. Rosales committed an error Sunday on what appeared to be an easy play, and it contributed to five unearned runs for San Diego in an 11-7 victory at Surprise Stadium.
None of them, though, is an offensive force. Tanaka was a .286 career hitter in Japan, but he had only eight hits in 30 at-bats last year for San Francisco. Wilson, Rosales and Lillibridge each has a career average below .230 with Wilson leading the way at .225.
Odor batted .306 last season in 30 games at Double A Frisco. His inexperience could make him a long shot, but he’s on the table with the rest of them.
“We’ll get somebody who can play,” Washington said. “Everyone that we feel can help us is an option. Believe me: We’re going to be OK. We’re going to miss Profar, but we’re going to move on and we’re still going to win some ballgames.”
Profar batted .234 as a rookie utility player last season, but an everyday spot was created for him in November when Kinsler was shipped to Detroit for first baseman Prince Fielder.
He batted .284 with Licey in the Dominican Winter League and was batting better than .300 when he was sidelined March 13 to have his wisdom teeth removed. He finishes camp with a .222 average with two homers and 11 RBIs.