The curse of Nolan Ryan and/or Ian Kinsler is already beginning to take a toll on the Texas Rangers.
In a matter of two days, the Rangers lost their starting second baseman, Jurickson Profar, and catcher, Geovany Soto, for the first 10 to 12 weeks of the season. MRI tests have shown that Profar will sit with a small tear in his right shoulder and Soto will need surgery for a torn meniscus disk in his right knee.
A few days later, Tuesday, pitcher Yu Darvish is scratched from his Opening Day start with a stiff neck and is scheduled to see a back specialist concerning this issue.
When it rains, it truly pours.
The Rangers can survive without Profar and Soto for the first few months of the season, but it certainly doesn’t help the morale of the clubhouse. Neither would contribute a lot on the offensive side, but Soto handles the pitching staff well and is trusted by the guys on the mound. Now they must quickly become familiar with JP Arencibia or possibly someone else.
Profar and Soto’s injuries aren’t usually the kind to have lingering effects, but Darvish’s is one that might be a common storyline throughout the year. How his doctor visit goes this week could say a lot about how this season is going to play out for Texas. Should Darvish need a few stints on the 15-Day DL during the year, the Rangers will find themselves on the outside looking in again.
Darvish isn’t the only arm to worry about either. Matt Harrison (back), Colby Lewis (elbow) and Neftali Feliz (Tommy John surgery) are all returning from an injury that caused them to miss the 2013 season. There’s no guarantee they make it through this season unscathed, which would put even more pressure on the Rangers’ pitching staff.
Grinding through an entire season and having the stamina to make it to September is hard enough on a pitcher. Missing a previous season makes that grind even tougher and could make you more susceptible to an injury.
Harrison is expected to join the team in the middle of April and thankfully has seen his velocity return. Feliz is set to begin the year as a seventh inning guy, and Lewis is still battling for a spot in the rotation.
But to start the season, it’s all hands on deck. These first few months of the year will tell a lot about this Texas team. Should they struggle to get out the of gate, it could be a long and stressful season for players and fans.