Josh Hamilton had his left knee examined Monday in Alabama. He’s seeking a second opinion on the pain he’s been feeling since October surgery.
It leaves Texas Rangers again uncertain as to what they will get from the outfielder and possibly make the club more serious about adding outfield help.
One possibility is former Rangers outfielder David Murphy.
Hamilton was in Birmingham, Ala., for a second opinion from Dr. Jeff Dugas, who works at the clinic of famed orthopedist Dr. James Andrews. Hamilton was bothered almost all off-season by an inflamed capsule in the knee, and showed up to camp last week with it aching.
Rangers team physician Dr. Keith Meister examined Hamilton over the weekend after he went through a full workout last Tuesday and spent the rest of the week hitting in the batting cages.
“You’d like to have a better handle on what we can expect from him this year,” Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said.
The Rangers have been in contact with several free-agent outfielders in addition to Murphy. No official offer has been made to Murphy, who played with the Rangers from 2008 to 2013 and lives in Trophy Club, but the Rangers have talked to him about a minor-league deal.
That could become a big-league deal should Hamilton’s knee require a surgery that would keep him out a significant stretch.
“The last thing you want sitting in that seat is not having a contingency plan, or disaster plans and that’s called depth,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. “[We’re] always planning accordingly. We work that exercise daily when you start talking about if [a particular] player goes down.”
The Rangers have a deep pool of players in camp who could play left field, a group that includes their top three prospects. The general thinking is that Joey Gallo, Nomar Mazara and Lewis Brinson won’t be able to contribute until later in the season. Hence, the need for a veteran. The Rangers have also checked in with Drew Stubbs, who finished 2015 with them, as well as Ryan Raburn and Austin Jackson.
Those three are right-handed hitters, which could put them in a disadvantage to Murphy. But Stubbs and Jackson can play center field, something the Rangers would like to have.
Darvish’s half-mound day
Yu Darvish said he felt great after a 17-pitch session off a half-mound on Monday morning. The right-hander threw 15 fastballs and two changeups, which pitching coach Doug Brocail gave permission to throw. It was Darvish’s first time pitching off any kind of mound this spring. The half-mound is half the height and half the slope of a normal mound. It offers less stress on a pitcher and is used for those coming off injuries. Darvish had Tommy John surgery a year ago. So it was an important moment for Darvish, who was pleased with the results.
“No discomfort or anything like that,” he said through an interpreter. “I wanted to see how my elbow was going to react, how much pressure it was going to take. That’s why it’s an important step for me.”
Brocail, who was seeing Darvish throw off a mound (albeit a half-mound) for the first time as a Rangers’ coach, was impressed.
“Yu Darvish coming back after Tommy John looks better than Doug Brocail ever did healthy,” Brocail joked. “He repeats his delivery so well. His arm slot is in the same spot every time. He gets through every single pitch. We know he’s healthy. He’s in a good spot. There’s no hurry here. He’s going to do great things in a Texas Rangers’ uniform. We don’t know need to hurry that process.”
Darvish is expected back in mid-May to early June.
Prince Fielder arrived at camp Monday morning to give the Rangers a full roster a day before position players were due in town. Fielder is more relaxed compared to last spring when he was coming off neck surgery and unsure how he’d produce.
“I’m not worried about my body or anything, no fear about whether I can do it like last year,” he said. “Now it’s just about getting ready.”
▪ Right-hander Luke Jackson (lower back soreness) did not throw off the mound Monday. He’s dealt with similar back soreness early in prior springs.
▪ Right-hander A.J. Griffin threw from flat ground Monday to work on some mechanical issues in front of Brocail.