The original prognosis from hand specialist Dr. Thomas Diliberti and Texas Rangers medical personnel called for four to six weeks before Delino DeShields would be able to return to the lineup.
"I'll be back sooner than four weeks," the center fielder said. "That's for sure."
Were it entirely up to DeShields, he would be reinstated from the 10-day disabled list Monday, two weeks after surgery to remove the broken hamate bone from his left hand. In his mind April 20 is realistic.
The hand is tender and the scar from the procedure has yet to fully heal, but DeShields believes he could be of use as a pinch-runner, defensive replacement and bunter by early next week for the three-game series at Tampa Bay. He has been throwing regularly and swinging a bat with only his right arm. His swing is simple enough that it won't take much time for him to piece it back together, and the pain he might still be feeling is a matter of mind over matter.
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DeShields wants to get going again.
"Honestly, it's just sore," he said. "It's really getting my hand to function again. They cut right throw they muscle. It's getting it semi-strong. It's going to be sore. They said the healing process is going to be two weeks and it's just pain tolerance from there. I've shot for three weeks, but if I can get in there earlier than that ... ."
DeShields was injured while taking a swing in his final plate appearance of the second game of the season. He stayed in to draw a walk and score on a Shin-Soo Choo double, and he finished the game defensively.
Drew Robinson and Carlos Tocci have shared duties in center field, and Choo has filled in as the leadoff hitter. With DeShields absent, manager Jeff Banister decided to move Joey Gallo from second in the order to fifth, with immediate results.
But the offense is missing a spark plug, especially with shortstop Elvis Andrus now a middle-of-the-order presence. No other player is as capable as DeShields at swiping bases or has the same variety of reaching base ahead off the run producers.
The Rangers entered Wednesday as one of seven teams with an MLB-low three steals and were tied with Pittsburgh for the most times caught stealing.
The Rangers, though, often take the conservative route with injuries. A rehab stint seems likely.
"They want to take their time," DeShields said. "If I can't do something, I can't do it. But if I feel I can do it, why not?"