The right-hander made his final start of 2012 in May, when the then-St. Louis Cardinals pitcher was sidelined due to shoulder and elbow injuries. McClellan ended up having season-ending shoulder surgery in July.
During the offseason and in the throes of rehab, he became a free agent. McClellan now found himself not only seeking good health, but also a job. The latter solved itself in January when the Texas Rangers signed McClellan to a minor-league contract with an invitation to attend training camp as a non-roster invitee.
McClellan would be given a chance to compete for the open fifth spot in the rotation. It wasn't a guaranteed position, but it was an opportunity, which was all the recovering pitcher could ask for.
"They gave me a chance when a lot of other teams wouldn't," McClellan said. "I appreciated that and I looked forward to giving them a return on their investment."
McClellan missed almost three weeks of spring training games with a sore shoulder that resulted from the surgery. He finally made his spring debut March 12 and looked like he hadn't missed a beat after tossing two scoreless innings.
He and the Rangers staff looked forward to stretching him out more, as none of the other healthy contenders for the fifth starter job had emerged as a clear-cut leader. The excitement was cut short Saturday when the Rangers announced McClellan suffered a strained right lat muscle. The typical recovery time is 3-4 weeks until he could resume a throwing program. The news was a blow to the team and McClellan, who put in months of work to show the Texas staff what he could do on the mound.
"It's difficult for me because I felt I was so close. I was game ready," McClellan said. "It feels like you kind of let the team down a little bit."