For a guy staring at the end of his MLB career, Edinson Volquez had an upbeat perspective on things Friday afternoon.
But that’s what he could be facing after the Texas Rangers placed him on the 10-day injured list with a sprained right elbow. Lefty-handed reliever Kyle Bird, a member of the Opening Day roster, was recalled from Triple A Nashville.
Volquez said that he won’t see team physician Dr. Keith Meister until after the current road trip, which continued Friday against the Los Angeles Angels.
Volquez pitched the opener of the four-game series Thursday knowing that something wasn’t right in his elbow. He never considered not pitching but knew as he went through his 3 2/3 innings that he wasn’t quite right.
If Meister recommends a third replacement of the ulnar collateral ligament, Volquez will pass without any reservations.
“If something bad happens, I won’t do it again,” said Volquez, 35. “I will go home to see my daughter grow. I think I got everything I need from baseball.”
Volquez underwent his second Tommy John in August 2017 with the Miami Marlins, and the Rangers signed him to a two-year minor-league deal late in spring training in 2018. He rehabbed with the Rangers’ medical staff and was added to the 40-man roster in November.
He navigated spring training without any issues and said that as recently as Monday his arm felt fine.
Manager Chris Woodward said that Volquez informed him of some elbow issues before his start, but the Rangers never considered scratching him because he said he could pitch. The discomfort he was describing is often a symptom pitchers returning from Tommy John surgery feel.
“If I felt we were risking injury, I would have never sent him out there,” Woodward said.
Volquez never considered asking to be scratched.
“I wanted to pitch,” he said. “I told Woody I was ready to pitch. It was hard between innings and warming up to get loose. I told them, ‘Just give me one more inning and take me out.’ That’s when they took me out. They knew.”
The Rangers will turn to Adrian Sampson to fill Volquez’s void, but not until next weekend. An off day Monday will allowed them to bump Lance Lynn’s next start to Wednesday on normal rest, and Drew Smyly will pitch next Friday after another off day Thursday.
Sampson and Miller, both right-handed, will work April 13 and April 14.
The injury takes a bite out of the Rangers’ rotation depth. Ariel Jurado is the next man standing at Nashville, and top prospects Taylor Hearn, Brock Burke, Joe Palumbo and Jonathan Hernandez are also options despite no big-league experience.
The Rangers could also dip into free agency to find starters who could provide depth, though their focus is on internal candidates. Phillips Valdez, pitching with Jurado and Hearn at Nashville, could be another option.
“We have some younger guys that if something happens, we would have to rely on them earlier than we want,” Woodward said. “But, hey, you know what, we have to rely on our depth. We have to go with the guys we’ve got.”
In the meantime, Volquez will try to remain upbeat.
“I can’t put my head down,” he said. “I’m going to keep my head up. I’ve put in a lot of work to be where I am right now and see what we’ve got.”