Gil LeBreton

Festivities turn funereal as Rangers’ hopes are buried

Amy Croom of Crandall takes a photo during the opening ceremonies at Globe Life Park before the Rangers’ home opener against the Houston Astros on Firday. The Rangers lost 5-1.
Amy Croom of Crandall takes a photo during the opening ceremonies at Globe Life Park before the Rangers’ home opener against the Houston Astros on Firday. The Rangers lost 5-1. Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Man the lifeboats!

Women and children first!

Only five games into the season, despite their best-laid plans and healthiest intentions, the Texas Rangers are taking on water again.

On Opening Day at the ballpark, a day meant to be festive and inspire hope, a day for presidents and soaring flyovers, a pall descended instead upon the Rangers’ season again.

In a somber clubhouse after the 5-1 loss to the Houston Astros, Rangers left fielder Ryan Rua wore a protective gray boot around his newly sprained right ankle. A trip to the disabled list appears likely.

Right fielder Shin-Soo Choo’s diagnosis, meanwhile, was back spasms. He may only miss a few days.

But the most crippling news involved Derek Holland, the team’s de facto best pitcher, who was forced to leave Friday’s home opener after one inning because of a strain in his left shoulder.

Holland, who was expected to anchor the pitching staff, will instead be lost for at least two months.

Make no mistake, two months from now the Rangers’ hopes for a redeeming comeback season will be in ashes. Unless there’s a rabbit waiting to be pulled out of a hat, in two months the Rangers’ season will look a lot like 2014.

Rangers players made 26 trips to the disabled list last season. The cumulative 2,281 days that the Rangers spent on the disabled list were 833 more than the next team.

That’s not an excuse, that’s an autopsy.

Injuries sank last season. Holland’s loss now threatens to drown this one just four days after it began.

“It’s disappointing, obviously,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “Especially in Derek’s case, with what he went through last year and how good he looked this spring. His last tuneup looked tremendous.

“Right now we have to get our arms around it and make our plans.”

“Arms” would be the right word. The Rangers’ farm system offers Daniels some options. The list includes Red Sox ex Anthony Ranaudo, newly acquired Wandy Rodriguez and Anthony Bass, the day’s bullpen hero.

But none seem ready yet to fill the void at the top of a major league rotation — or they would already be in Arlington.

“We’re still talking about our options right now,” Daniels said after Friday’s game.

With Yu Darvish lost for the season after Tommy John surgery and young Martin Perez not expected back until at least midseason, the rotation was already robbed of two of its best three arms. Holland would be the third.

Perish the thought of a major trade. The Rangers’ pitching holes are too gaping to be plugged by a single deal.

Promoting from the farm system would also come with a price — loss of a young player’s patient apprenticeship.

Being patient, Daniels said, is “just the right thing to do. Listen, we’re not hesitant to go to guys when they’re ready.

“But it’s not fair to them or anybody else to go to them before then.”

Few teams have dared to pull the plug on a season after only a few games. But after the 2014 season, Daniels has to know what lies ahead.

After five games, the Rangers are batting .185 as a team, third worst in the American League. Runs were going to be hard to come by for the lineup even before Rua went down. Now they’ll need to summon a minor leaguer.

Bold talk likely will ensue. The new manager understandably will remind us that his team isn’t about to quit.

From a marketing standpoint, pulling the plug on a season always comes at a price.

Daniels isn’t likely to pull any plug — not here, not now — but the time may have come Friday for Rangers fans to view the bigger picture. If any big move is to be made, it should be with the future in mind, not this season.

That includes the possibility of trading away third baseman Adrian Beltre, whose Hall of Fame résumé should bring an abundant return.

Never happen? Beltre just turned 36. His value to the Rangers may never be higher.

But so went Opening Day at Globe Life Ballpark. A day that began still nursing hopes of a comeback season, but ended with thoughts that were previously unthinkable.

Derek Holland, out for at least two months.

Ready the lifeboats.

You know the drill.

Gil LeBreton, 817-390-7697

Twitter: @gilebreton

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