SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Matt Harrison knows the pressure could mount on him this spring. He's vowing to fight it and is preaching patience, even right after his first bullpen session in Surprise, Ariz., on Sunday.
But for a guy who hasn't pitched since April and someone who knows a big part of the rotation is still on crutches right now, that won't be easy.
"What happened to Derek [Holland] is unfortunate, but I can't add any more pressure to myself to go out there and do something, because if I push too hard, it may be too much," Harrison said.
That's not going to be easy to do. The reality is that this rotation needs the Harrison who was so consistent in 2011 and 2012. They need the guy who pitched nearly 400 innings in those two seasons, sporting a 3.34 ERA in that span. Harrison had 18 wins in 2012 and after putting together two solid seasons, earned a contract extension. But injuries -- first his back, then Thoracic Outlet Syndrome surgery (the second of his career) -- prevented him from doing anything after making two starts last year.
But with Holland's time line right now as midseason and the fifth spot in the rotation up for grabs, there's urgency for Harrison to step up and perform. He knows it. But he's busy trying to put that out of his mind and focus on continuing to build strength and get fully healthy for the season. That's the smart thing to do.
And that means staying patient.
"It's been kind of boring," Harrison said. "I started working out in October. It was a long offseason working out and getting back healthy, but it's what I needed to do to get right."
Yet even as Harrison tries to block out everything but his preparation, the pressure is there. The Rangers need Harrison to perform. And they need that even more now with Holland hurt.
"At this point, I don't want to put any pressure on myself. But I know I need to step up and be out there every five days and do my job," Harrison said. "Hopefully, I'm off the injury wagon."