Texas Rangers

Rangers to be without Diekman indefinitely

Jake Diekman was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at age 11. He will have surgery to alleviate it Jan. 25 and miss at least the first half of the season.
Jake Diekman was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at age 11. He will have surgery to alleviate it Jan. 25 and miss at least the first half of the season. rrodriguez@star-telegram.com

Left-hander Jake Diekman will miss at least the first half of the 2017 season after a Jan. 25 operation to alleviate complications with ulcerative colitis, Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said.

The Rangers were aware of Diekman’s health issues last week when they agreed to a $2.55 million contract, avoiding arbitration. Diekman, who was diagnosed with the disease at age 11 and has battled it throughout his career, had another bout in November and was informed in mid-December that surgery could be an option.

“His initial thought was to wait until the end of the year if not his career, but personal health first and foremost,” Daniels said. “He’s been in constant communication with us and our medical staff, and our top priority is Deke’s personal health.”

Diekman was expected to be a key member of the Rangers’ bullpen, as he has been since they acquired him July 31, 2015, in the Cole Hamels trade. Daniels said that the Rangers are unlikely to pursue a lefty reliever and will fill the void with internal candidates.

Alex Claudio and Dario Alvarez are the leading candidates if the Rangers opt for two lefties in the bullpen.

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