The Texas Rangers have put the finishing touches on what they believe will be their starting rotation for most of the season.
But general manager Jon Daniels on Friday wouldn’t put a finger on when right-hander Tyson Ross will be ready to join Cole Hamels, Yu Darvish, Martin Perez and Andrew Cashner after an October operation to alleviate thoracic outlet syndrome.
The goal, Daniels and Ross said, is to be going strong during the stretch run.
The Rangers and Ross completed a one-year deal that guarantees him $6 million and could be worth $9 million if he meets his performance bonuses. A club official expects that Ross will make his 2017 debut in May or June after taking a conservative approach to his recovery.
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“I don’t know what the date is going to be, but I’m totally confident that not only will I be ready but I’ll be back at 100 percent and be able to help this ballclub win some games down the stretch,” Ross said.
“My recovery is going well thus far. I’ve been throwing. I’m working out four days in a week in addition with exercises at home and coming into the facility down here. I’m getting back in shape, I’m feeling good and I’m optimistic.”
Ross was the San Diego Padres’ starter on Opening Day in 2016 but didn’t pitch again as he dealt with shoulder issues. He was finally diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome and underwent surgery Oct. 13.
In his mind, he missed the entire season even though he attempted to come back. He said he maintained his strength but needs to get the feel for pitching and wants to make sure he is conditioned well enough to pitch in September.
I’m trying to focus on the daily process of the rehab and training and just do it right by going through this process rather than get my eyes set out too far ahead of me.
Ross hasn’t set a goal for a number of starts or innings. He just wants to follow the medical staff’s plan, and their experience with thoracic outlet syndrome was one of the reasons he chose the Rangers over the Chicago Cubs and other suitors.
“Based on our medical staff’s opinions, Tyson’s doing really well,” Daniels said. “He’s intentionally taking it on the conservative side, which is great from a standpoint of long-term health. Our mindset is to get him to where he feels 100 percent, feels strong, and the goal is to finish strong.
“We would rather err on a little extra time up front with the goal being to finish strong, pitching in big spots, meaningful games down the stretch and hopefully past 162.”
Multiple club officials believed that Ross, who turns 30 on April 22, was the best option remaining on a thin free-agent market for starting pitchers. He went 23-26 with a 3.03 ERA in 2014 and 2015, and he pushed 200 innings in each season and topped 200 strikeouts in 2015.
196 Innings, a career-high, for Tyson Ross in 2015, when he also struck out a career-high 212 batters
Among his 10 wins in 2015 were two over the Rangers in which he tossed 13 2/3 scoreless innings.
The Rangers had attempted to acquire him via trade, without success, the past few seasons.
“I’m excited to bring him on board, a process a couple years in the making,” Daniels said. “When he became available this off-season he was a priority for us. We know full well what he’s capable of doing on the field. After all of our due diligence, we feel like he’s on a pace to really help us this year.”
The Rangers will find their fifth starter to open the season in spring training from a group that includes right-handers A.J. Griffin, Dillon Gee, Nick Martinez, Chi Chi Gonzalez, Mike Hauschild and Tyler Wagner.
Left-hander Yohander Mendez, the Rangers’ top pitching prospect, will open the season at Triple A Round Rock.