On paper to start the season, the Texas Rangers were thought to be a power in the American League west. Trading for Prince Fielder and signing Shin-Soo Choo, a weakened 2013 offense was thought to be a team strength, to go along with a young promising pitching staff led by Yu Darvish, Martin Perez and Tanner Scheppers. What has followed, almost without pause, has been a nearly unprecedented rash of injuries crippling the team.
Starting with SP Matt Harrison, and continuing through SP Perez and infielder Jurickson Profar, the club has not only dealt with a spate of injuries, but debilitating and in Harrison’s case possibly career threatening. Perez, for his part figures to miss over a year with a torn ulnar collateral ligament, necessitating Tommy John surgery. The team has managed the best they can, calling up youngster after youngster, including highly touted SP Nick Martinez who is scheduled to start the finale against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Manager Ron Washington is starting to feel the pressure. Faced with a mounting disaster, he and GM Jon Daniels are still desperately trying to hold onto the wheel and keep the team’s season from completely careening off the road. Already seven games out of first place, there seems to be little relief on the way that might give the team hope. If this team is to turn around, it must be because the kids, Martinez, and infielders Luis Sardinas and Roughned Odor, were ready for prime time ahead of the expected schedule.
Facing R.A. Dickey, the crafty knuckleballer and ex-Ranger, these kids are going to have to produce against the exact type of pitcher inexperienced hitters least want to face. For the Rangers, growing up fast is not just a choice — it is a requirement.