Texas Rangers

Rangers’ Profar, Choo ready to play after injury-plagued season

Jurickson Profar, left, and Shin-Soo Choo were all smiles at spring training last year, but injuries changed that.
Jurickson Profar, left, and Shin-Soo Choo were all smiles at spring training last year, but injuries changed that. Star-Telegram

Jurickson Profar and Shin-Soo Choo were together Saturday afternoon at a Texas Rangers Caravan stop, one of the few times they have been together since last spring.

Profar didn’t make it through spring camp in 2014 because of a torn shoulder muscle, and Choo didn’t make it through the 2014 season because of a joint decision to undergo surgery on his left elbow.

Their injury woes go deeper than that. Profar would tear the same muscle, the teres major, two more times, and Choo would undergo ankle surgery about a month after he had his elbow cleaned up.

Each, though, declared himself healthy and ready to go before sitting down for an hourlong autograph session at Academy Sports & Outdoors. Each admitted that he has some work to do in 2015 to re-establish himself within the organization and fan base.

“I want to show how Shin-Soo Choo plays at the big-league level,” Choo said. “They were looking for a normal Shin-Soo Choo, but I didn’t play like that.”

Choo, 32, will get the chance beginning Opening Day, likely as the Rangers’ right fielder and likely in the middle of the batting order after playing left field and batting leadoff in 2014. He was one of the best players in the American League early on before fading badly.

He didn’t use the injuries as an excuse, even though the elbow injury hampered him on pitches in the outer half of the strike zone and the ankle injury led to some iffy play in the outfield.

He was also more occupied with trying to figure out how to operate with minimal pain each day rather than focusing all of his attention on how to attack that day’s opposing pitcher.

“It’s a six-month season,” Choo said. “It’s not a month-and-a-half season.”

Profar will have to prove himself in the minor leagues to start the season. Though much has been made of his ability, he’s hardly a veteran, and a young player who has missed a full season needs time to get back into game shape.

He also has seen Rougned Odor blossom into the Rangers’ everyday second baseman, the role Profar was expected to fill last year before his shoulder issues. That’s another reason why he’s ticketed for Triple A.

Profar said that he’s ready for whatever happens. His shoulder must hold up first, and he will begin a throwing program Jan. 19 after an MRI last week showed that the tear in his shoulder has healed.

“It’s the best I’ve felt,” said Profar, who turns 22 on Feb. 20. “I know I’m going to make it.”

Profar has added muscle to his wiry frame but hasn’t done any baseball activities.

Choo started workouts Nov. 1, was throwing by the end of November and started hitting off a tee after Christmas. He is running at 100 percent, though still experiencing some of the normal stiffness after an operation.

That’s good news for the Rangers, who need production from the player they signed late in 2013 for seven years and $130 million. He and Profar, together again Saturday, said they are ready to get back on the field.

“I feel too good,” Choo said. “If I’m healthy and finish the season plus-150 games, I have confidence in myself I can do what I’ve done before.”

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @JeffWilson_FWST

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