Tommy Hunter could be out six weeks

SURPRISE, Ariz. – Rangers starter Tommy Hunter could miss six weeks with a Grade II right groin strain. The club intends to put Hunter on the disabled list to start the season, leaving Michael Kirkman and Dave Bush as the leading internal candidates to take his spot in the rotation.

Rangers assistant general manager Thad Levine said the club would have to meet to determine who ends up in the rotation. He said he didn’t expect the injury to change the decision to put Neftali Feliz in the bullpen as the closer.

Hunter is scheduled to fly back to Arlington this weekend to have a blood-platelet injection in an effort to speed up his recovery.

“I had three days to go,” Hunter said. “I was looking forward to going back to Texas and looking forward to Opening Day and being a part of it. Things didn’t fall into place.”

Hunter, 24, suffered the injury during the third inning of Thursday’s game against the Cincinnati Reds. He said he felt something his third pitch to outfielder Drew Stubbs and then when he threw his next pitch, manager Ron Washington, pitching coach Mike Maddux and assistant athletic trainer Kevin Harmon came out to the mound to check on him. Hunter was taken out of the game after allowing five runs on six hits in two-plus innings.