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A spring-training line drive broke Luke Farrell’s jaw in early March.
He underwent surgery, had his jaw wired shut, was on a liquid diet for a month and then could eat only soft foods for a few weeks more.
On top of that, he was suffering from a concussion that eventually took him to Pittsburgh to find the right solution.
Farrell endured the desert heat as he started cranking up his right arm again. He has been pitching for Double A Frisco this month in a season in which the Texas Rangers likely would have called upon him in April or May.
Yet, as of Thursday afternoon, Farrell said that just being at Dr Pepper Ballpark was a victory.
“Absolutely,” he said.
That victory just got much sweeter.
The Rangers are reinstating Farrell from the 60-day injured list and put them to in their bullpen in time for Friday night’s game against the Chicago White Sox.
The Rangers need access to the multiple Farrell can pitch, with their bullpen worn down from four games in three days against the Los Angeles Angels. Ariel Jurado delivered his first complete game Thursday in a 6-1 loss to the White Sox, but Farrell is still be a welcome addition.
The move completes a journey that started with Farrell bloodied and broken at Scottsdale Stadium in Arizona.
“I’m doing much better,” Farrell said Thursday. “I’ve learned a lot about myself. I’ve a lot about the brain, more than I would have liked. It’s been a long process for sure.”
Farrell was at the end of his 30-day rehab window, and the Rangers were required to reinstate him from the 60-day IL. They must either add him to the active roster, option him to the minor leagues or designate him for assignment.
They created a spot on the 40-man roster for Farrell by designating righty Shane Carle for assignment. Left-hander Locke St. John to Triple A Nashville to open a spot on the 25-man roster.
Farrell was pitching for the third time in spring training March 2 against the San Francisco Giants. Working the ninth inning, he retired the first batter he faced but couldn’t get his glove up in time to deflect a line drive by Jalen Miller.
Farrell, the son of former big-league pitcher and manager John Farrell, was struck on the right side of his face. He was bleeding but alert when he was taken off the field and to a hospital across the street.
X-rays showed a fracture, and Farrell underwent surgery Feb. 6.
“I got a new piece in metal put in, a couple screws,” Farrell said. “I’m a little bionic.”
He said that he lost between 15 and 20 pounds with his diet severely restricted, but the lingering effects of the concussion were the bigger issue. He finally went to Pittsburgh to see Dr. Micky Collins, an expert in treating concussions. Collins has treated NHL star Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins, NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr. and former Rangers catcher Robinson Chirinos.
Farrell started feeling better almost immediately after the exam by Collins.
“I was really stagnant for a while, just on my back,” Farrell said. “It ended up being over two months with no baseball activities. As soon as I saw him, he had me jump into workouts and had me go through therapy.
“I think there’s a lot of misinformation out there and different theories on how to approach the injury and rehabilitated the injury. A concussion is a lack of energy to your brain, and when I found that out, it sort of explains why you feel the way you do and why your symptoms manifest.”
The Rangers put Farrell through a throwing program beginning in late May. He had to start his off-season program all over and build up his arm strength as he would have in spring training. It has been abbreviated, with Farrell working in relief instead of as a starter.
He also has had a ball hit right back at him.
“I’ve had a few,” said Farrell, whose two older brothers work for the Chicago Cubs in the front office (Jeremy) and as a scout (Shane) . “There was some lingering anxiety as to what that might be like, but I think more than anything it was just the joy of being back playing.”
But the results have been there in five appearances with Frisco. Farrell posted a 1.04 ERA in 8 2/3 innings, walking four, striking out 12 and allowing only two hits.
“The guys in Arizona rave about him,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “He grew up around the game. He’s really bright. He gets more than just the pitching side of it. He’s really engaging to talk to. Regardless of who it was, you would have been sick to your stomach.”
But it was Farrell, who in high school and college had to have two golf ball-sized tumors removed from the left side of his throat. That was his first experience with a liquid diet and massive weight loss.
Daniels said that Farrell, who was expected to open the season in the rotation at Nashville, would have joined the Rangers early in the season if not for the broken jaw.
“Just another setback,” Farrell said. “It’s been a daily grind in so many different ways. In a lot of ways it’s been like when you’re training your body. You might want to stop or there’s pain or you get tired, and that’s kind of the rehabilitation for the brain.”
It’s been a long road to establishing himself in the majors, something he is still looking to do. He moved another step closer Friday.