Texas Rangers

Rangers notes: Tanner Scheppers out at least first half of season

Rangers pitcher Tanner Scheppers has been plagued by injuries since early in the 2014 season when he as briefly converted to a starter after an excellent 2013 season in the bullpen.
Rangers pitcher Tanner Scheppers has been plagued by injuries since early in the 2014 season when he as briefly converted to a starter after an excellent 2013 season in the bullpen. Fort Worth Star-Telegram

The string of injury issues continues for Texas Rangers pitcher Tanner Scheppers.

The right-hander will miss at least the first half of the season after being diagnosed with torn articular cartilage in his left knee.

He’s scheduled to have surgery performed team physician Dr. Keith Meister on Wednesday in Arlington. General manager Jon Daniels expects him to return in July.

A bone bruise in the same knee (the one he lands on in his pitching motion) kept him off the field for much of the final two months of last season. An ankle injury in spring training a year ago slowed his start. To top off his run of bad luck, he even cut a finger on his throwing hand during the Rangers’ postgame champagne celebration after winning the division in October.

All of this followed a 2014 season in which Scheppers was plagued with elbow inflammation that limited him to eight appearances. The first four of those were starts, including Opening Day in 2014 when he filled in for an injured Yu Darvish. Scheppers had been moved to the rotation that spring after a standout 2013 season in which he had a 1.88 ERA in 76  2/3 relief innings.

I think there’s a competitor inside of Tanner that is going to find a way to push through this and when the time is right he’ll be back and be competitive.

Manager Jeff Banister

But in the 61  1/3 combined innings he’s pitched since, his ERA has ballooned to 6.90.

“He’s worked hard to get back,” Daniels said. “Obviously, it’s a blow and disappointment for him. But we’ll do what we do and get him back.”

Scheppers and wife Jessica had a baby girl during the off-season, which has helped him keep the bad news in perspective, Daniels said.

Scheppers told the Rangers he doesn’t recall a recent significant event that easily explains the injury. It was swollen when he woke up a few days ago but a bullpen session later that morning didn’t cause pain.

Manager Jeff Banister has yet to see Scheppers be the type of pitcher he was in 2013. But he saw firsthand how hard he was working to regain his form.

Tanner Scheppers was a force out of the bullpen in 2013, compiling a 1.88 ERA over 76 2/3 innings.

“I saw him at the ballpark daily [all off-season],” Banister said. “He had a great look in his eyes. The energy and effort he put forth this winter and to not get rewarded for that I know has to be extremely disheartening for him.”

Banister expects Scheppers, who turned 29 last month, to be back and make a difference.

“I think there’s a competitor inside of Tanner that is going to find a way to push through this and when the time is right he’ll be back and be competitive,” Banister said.

Profar’s bat

Jurickson Profar might have a little Mark “The Bird” Fidrych in him. The shortstop who turned 23 on Saturday can often be seen, at least during spring training, smelling and listening to his bat. He said the fresh paint and maple wood smell good. Pressed against the ear, the bat exudes a sound similar to the ocean sound in a sea shell. After a demonstration, both have been confirmed.

Profar, who has missed the past two seasons because of injuries, arrived in Surprise 10 days ago. He is healthy and has no limitations this spring.

“Just waiting for the games,” he said.

Pitching depth

The Rangers will sign right-hander Jeremy Guthrie to a minor league deal with an invitation to major league camp, pending a Sunday morning physical . Guthrie, 36, has been in the majors since 2004, including the past four seasons with the Royals. He was 8-8 with a 5.95 ERA in 24 starts in 2015. He’s thrown more than 200 innings five times, including in 2013 and ’14.

Hamilton hits

Josh Hamilton hit in the batting cages Saturday morning and worked on his conditioning inside the complex instead of the practice fields. Daniels said Hamilton’s left knee remains sore.

Stefan Stevenson: 817-390-7760, @StevensonFWST

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