As bad as things have been for the Texas Rangers early in the 2014 MLB season, they’re probably about to get worse. Prince Fielder is reportedly deciding whether or not to have season-ending surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck. After all the terrible luck the Rangers have had with injuries this season, this one might just be a tipping point.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports Fielder is “seriously considering” the surgery, which would end his first season in Texas after 42 games, although he hasn’t played since May 16.
Texas hasn’t been at full strength on offense or defense at any point this season, which is why the team has been struggling to get above .500 for the past month. Although Fielder hasn’t exactly set the woods on fire in his first season with the Rangers, his absence for the rest of the season would be detrimental to the team’s playoff hopes and certainly its chances of making a run in the postseason.
This news comes just before the Rangers travel north for a four-game set with Fielder’s former team, the Detroit Tigers. He’s undoubtedly bummed about not being able to play against his old teammates, but Rangers manager Ron Washington said Fielder is being realistic about his health.
After receiving a nerve-root injection following the last game he played on May 16h, Fielder hasn’t taken the field for Texas and didn’t travel with the team to Detroit. Although the surgery isn’t required, he will be at less than full strength if he continues to play; the herniated disk is pinching a nerve in his neck that weakens his left arm.
Obviously, Fielder’s long-term health is also something Texas must consider in the process. The 30-year-old slugger still has seven years left on his contract with the Rangers, including 2014, and making sure he’s around and able to play at a relatively high level for most of those is critical.