Texas Rangers

What if Profar had never been injured? It's a game he, Rangers don't want to play

Jurickson Profar, who turned 25 this week, views his injury ordeal in a positive manner. "I appreciate everything," he said. "I don't know what there would have been for me if I didn't get hurt. Maybe I don't care about anything. I don't know."
Jurickson Profar, who turned 25 this week, views his injury ordeal in a positive manner. "I appreciate everything," he said. "I don't know what there would have been for me if I didn't get hurt. Maybe I don't care about anything. I don't know." pmoseley@star-telegram.com

The single balloon attached to Jurickson Profar's locker inside the Texas Rangers' spring clubhouse was a sure fire indication that someone had celebrated a birthday, and Profar did.

He turned 25 on Tuesday, still a shock to many — in two ways.

The first is, 'Man, is that all? It seems like he's been around long enough to be 35.'

The second is, 'Man, that's it? He's still so young.'

Profar has always been young. He connected for a homer in his first MLB at-bat in 2012 at age 19, and five years ago, near his 20th birthday, the Star-Telegram wondered what the Rangers would do with the No. 1 prospect in baseball.

A year later, when Profar could legally purchase a beer, the answer was clear: He was to be their second baseman into the future.

Yesterday, during the Rangers' first full-squad workout of spring training, he started trying to ensure that he would be on the Rangers' bench.

No one would have imagined that five years ago, but a shoulder injury derailed his career and has left many to wonder what would have happened if Profar had stayed healthy.

Just don't include Profar among them.

"I think it was a lesson for me," Profar said. "I worked very hard. I appreciate everything. I don't know what there would have been for me if I didn't get hurt. Maybe I don't care about anything. I don't know. It's going to be a lot better for me in the long run. I'm 25. I have a lot of years left."

Profar isn't the only one who is choosing to look forward and not at what might have been. Nevertheless, if he never is injured, never misses two seasons and essentially parts of a third, and instead becomes the All-Star player the Rangers had envisioned, a fairly significant domino would have fallen.

Rougned Odor might be a Rangers outfielder. He might be a second baseman, but with another organization. Maybe he's one of the five prospects sent to the Philadelphia Phillies for Cole Hamels and Jake Diekman.

"He probably wouldn't be here," shortstop Elvis Andrus said.

Odor said that he's never thought about how a healthy Profar would have affected him, and as a then-20-year-old who had never played above Double A, that's not hard to believe.

Assistant general manager Jayce Tingler wants to look at who Profar is now rather than play the what-if game. Profar admits that the injury humbled him, though to the people in his native Curacao he's always been the humble, good-natured ballplayer who twice led a team to the Little League World Series.

Tingler still sees the 16-year-old who signed with the Rangers as an infielder rather than as the pitcher every other organization wanted him to be. But he also sees a healthy player and a player who mentally is at peace and in a better frame of mind.

"I think about just seeing him now," Tingler said. "Physically he looks great, and mentally he seems to be in a great spot. I'm just thankful where he [mentally] is now. Maybe he wouldn't be there if he wasn't derailed by injuries.

"Would Odor have ever gotten the chance in 2014 to come up? We all change. That's the reality. No matter what you thought of Profar, either as No. 1 or No. 2 in all of minor league baseball as a prospect, just to where he's at now, I can't wait to watch him play."

Profar still believes that he will be the player everyone assumed he'd be. There is time, as he said, but there's not a place for him to play with the Rangers. Other teams inquired about him throughout the off-season, but the Rangers couldn't find a trade they liked.

They also could have a need for Profar next season, should Andrus opt out of his contract and not return. General manager Jon Daniels has said that the Rangers aren't shopping Profar and that he is expected to be on the Opening Day roster this season because he is out of minor-league options.

Profar just wants to play baseball, which will be difficult with Andrus and Odor in his way. But he's also not worried about it, and he's not among those wondering what would have happened had he never been injured.

"I'm going to be where I'm going to be," Profar said. "That happened on the way, but it's OK. I learned to just keep working hard no matter if I'm here or at the top. If I'm at the top, just keep working. I know things like that can happen. You never know."

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