Texas Rangers: Matt Harrison
"I'll be ready for Opening Day," Harrison said.
Harrison, the Rangers' 2013 Opening Day starter, is down to 245 pounds, ridding himself of the excess weight caused by the treatments he received after three surgeries over a five-month span. Harrison has been playing catch for a month, stretching out to 150 feet, and will begin throwing from a mound at about 50-percent effort next week.
Harrison received a big thumbs' up from manager Ron Washington, who was also at the Cowboys Santas Toy Drive Finale at Rangers Ballpark on Tuesday night.
"He's lost that fat from the operations," Washington said. "He looks tremendous."
Harrison made only two starts last season and had two surgeries in April and May to repair a herniated disc. He also had an operation in September to alleviate thoracic outlet syndrome, which he said he has mostly recovered from two months away from spring training.
Harrison has been working out at his home in North Carolina and will return to Arlington around Jan. 19 to ramp up his workouts.
"The workouts are great," said Harrison, who won a team-best 18 games in 2012. "The back feels good."
But general manager Jon Daniels does not share that opinion.
"He had a decision to make," Daniels said late Tuesday afternoon. "I think one of the byproducts of that decision was that it impacted the club. There’s no two ways around that. But we all understood the position he was in. I can’t speak for everybody, but I don’t view it that way. I don’t think he owes us.
"I think he likes being here. He may factor that in. It’s been an overall positive relationship over the years. I don’t think one side owes the other."
Daniels said there was "nothing new" to report on Cruz. The club met with Adam Katz, Cruz's agent, on Monday and communication lines are still open. Sources indicated earlier Tuesday that the price for Shin-Soo Choo was at a level that was higher than the Rangers wanted to pay and that the club was leaning toward Cruz at this point. But the question is whether the two sides can agree on a deal that makes sense.
Daniels and his staff continue to survey the market to see what is out there and if it fits with the club.
“There are good players out there, but do we want to pay what it would cost in contract or young players?” Daniels said. “Does it make sense for us right now? There are a few select guys we’re still keeping tabs on. But we’re not involved with as many of the big names as we’re rumored to be.”
* Daniels said he met with some teams and agents Tuesday, but had nothing specific to report.
* The Rangers may add some depth to the bullpen, but Daniels said they aren’t really involved in bullpen additions. “If anything, we’ve fielded calls on our guys,” Daniels said.
* Tanner Scheppers is preparing as if he’ll start. “He’s interested in starting, but he’s also interested in closing,” Daniels said. “We know he’s pretty dominant in the eighth inning.” It’s more likely Robbie Ross starts in spring training than Scheppers.
* Daniels said they won't just bring an outfielder in as a "safety net" for Michael Choice, but said there's a "good chance" they'd bring in a veteran guy if he fits with the club.
* Daniels said just because the team may have missed on some injured players in the past, they're not hesitant to do it again. Daniels mentioned Milton Bradley and Eric Gagne were successes on that front and he believes Joakim Soria will be as well. He also noted that Lance Berkman and Brandon Webb were not. "When you take those kinds of chances, you know there's added risk involved," Daniels said. "But we're not afraid to go down that path again. You go in knowing you have a chance to miss, but you hit pretty big when you get an impact player on a small deal like that."
* Daniels and manager Ron Washington will attend a Wednesday morning presentation by MLB regarding replay and how everything will work.
Today's position: Starting pitching
For the first time in a long time in Texas, starting pitching is not the club's top priority. In fact, if you consider the team went into the Hot Stove season needing a catcher, power-hitting first baseman, left fielder and closer (though that's something that will likely come internally), starting pitching is way down on the list.
But there's a difference between being down on the list or not on the list at all. Daniels and the front office know all too well that pitching is always on the list.
Texas rolls into the 2014 season with a starting rotation set to go, barring injuries. And that last part is the biggest reason why starting pitching is still on the list. Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland, Martin Perez and Alexi Ogando are penciled in as of this moment. But the Rangers have to assume an injury will pop up. They just don't know which pitcher will experience it and when it might happen.
Last offseason, Harrison signed a long-term deal and ended up making two starts before troubles began. He had surgery to repair back troubles and also a procedure to relieve a thoracic outlet syndrome issue in his non-throwing shoulder. He should be fully ready by the start of the season and he has talked about how he's hungry to get back out there. But losing Harrison, an 18-game winner, for effectively the entire 2013 season was proof that pitching rarely goes according to plan. Colby Lewis was supposed to be back in June and never pitched in the big leagues last year. Injuries forced young starters to join the rotation sooner than expected.
So don't be surprised if the Rangers look to shore up some depth. They could attempt to grab the biggest starting pitching prize -- David Price -- via trade with the Tampa Bay Rays. But that deal would likely have to start with Jurickson Profar, and at this point the Rangers have him manning second base in place of Ian Kinsler, who was traded to the Detroit Tigers for Prince Fielder. But there are others. What about Jeff Samardzija? He's got two more years of club control and while he's coming off a season where he didn't meet expectations, he's got the ability to do something. Perhaps his value would be such that a deal could be made. At this point, the Cubs, according to reports, still haven't given up on signing him to an extension. We'll see.
Masashiro Tanaka is still playing the waiting game to see how the posting system shakes out. According to the New York Post, MLB is proposing a cap of $20 million on bids. If that's the case, what if the Rangers jumped in at that price (as would other teams)? It hasn't been decided what happens if several teams each bid that amount, but it's possible that Tanaka would get to choose the team with which he would negotiate. The fact that Darvish is in Texas and that the Rangers are contenders couldn't hurt. It just makes me wonder. Stay tuned. He may still command more than the Rangers will want to pay.
Texas could look at some short-term options on the free-agent market, though it depends on whether they can find nice value. They've already signed Lewis to a minor league deal and hope that he can come back and provide some depth at some point in 2014. They aren't afraid to take some risks on injured pitchers, though Josh Johnson is already off the board. Trades are always a possibility, and as we saw with the Nationals last night in acquiring Doug Fister, even a solid middle-of-the-rotation guy can become available. Some of you have asked about Ervin Santana. Yes, he's available. And he's a middle-of-the-rotation guy. But at his price point and with his inconsistent history, he's likely too much of a risk, if you ask me?
For it to make sense for the Rangers to grab some starting pitching, they either sign some value arms that can provide depth at spring training and in the minors to guard against injuries to the rotation or they swing for the fences (yeah, if you're going to use a cliche, use one that's at least in the same sport) and go after a huge name.
We'll keep one eye on the starting pitching market next week. Price is intriguing in that he would make that entire rotation even deeper, allowing the club to have Ogando as the sixth guy, waiting when needed. And can you imagine Price and Darvish starting the first two games of a playoff series? Again, it would take a major deal to get Price, but the Rangers have the assets to do it. You never know.
This blog doesn't happen and isn't worth the time and effort without the fans. And Rangers fans are passionate and supportive. You are smart baseball fans that care about every aspect of the team. That's obvious in your comments, questions and interest level.
A few things to be thankful for today if you're a Rangers fan (I'm sure I'm forgetting plenty, so feel free to add in the comment section):
* Yu Darvish. We've talked at length the last year about the Rangers' ace and I was one who wrote about his lack of success in close games and how he needs to go to that next level. But I wrote that because I believe that Darvish is capable of winning multiple Cy Young Awards. He has the stuff to be a tremendous pitcher for a long time. He's just not there yet. Be thankful he's in a Rangers uniform.
* Multiple options. The Rangers are a fortunate team in that they have resources to stay contenders for a long time. They've got an ownership group willing to spend money, a front office that is one of the best in the game and a minor-league system that allows them to compete with any team on the trade front. Most teams can't say that.
* Ron Washington. I know some of you don't like Washington's in-game strategy, but take a look around and ask yourself how many managers have the type of clubhouse the Rangers have now? How many clubs have teams that play as hard as the Rangers? The manager deserves credit for that.
* Adrian Beltre. He's one of the best defensive third baseman in the league and a leader in the Rangers clubhouse. He's fun to watch on a nightly basis and part of the heart of this club.
* Ian Kinsler. Yep, I know many of you were critical of Kinsler. But the bottom line is that he helped this team and was a key contributor during the best years in franchise history.
* Starting rotation. How many teams can claim to have their five scheduled starters for 2014 under contract for at least the next few seasons? If you throw Alexi Ogando into that mix, you're talking about a rotation that should stay intact for a while, barring injuries. Martin Perez was the latest starter to join Darvish, Derek Holland and Matt Harrison in long-term deals.
* Prince Fielder. The Rangers needed a big bat and got one in the 29-year-old left-handed hitter. They had to give up Kinsler and spend some money to do it. But the club has a power-hitter for the middle of the lineup, something the offense sorely needed.
* David Murphy. He's now in Cleveland, but he was an integral part of the team and clubhouse as the team went from the bottom of the AL West to the top. And from a media perspective, he was always available and willing to give fans a sense of the mood of the team.
What are you thankful for as a Rangers fan?
"I don't want to go through something like that again," Harrison said Wednesday from his home in North Carolina. "I’m eager to get back out here and pitch even more. There was a bad taste left in my mouth after doing all that rehab and being shut down again after putting all the work in. I’ll be glad to get back out there."
Harrison, 28, said he's been working out for about a month now and feels good. The back hasn't given him any problems, and he's building strength in his arm. Harrison is planning on playing catch Thursday as he ramps up a little earlier than normal after such a layoff.
"It's about getting past the initial soreness and getting the strength and flexibility back from taking all that time off," Harrison said. "But the back feels great. I'm doing good."
Harrison said he's down to 240 pounds, a weight that he'd like to stay at for spring training. Thanks mainly to medication, Harrison said he ballooned up to 270 pounds at one point. He said his playing weight is normally around 250, but doesn't want to pitch at that weight anymore.
"It would help with everything to take a little stress off the back and make it easier to run," Harrison said.
Harrison was pleased to see Martin Perez get a long-term contract last week to lock up most of the club's rotation for the future. That includes Harrison, who signed a five-year, $55 million deal before last season after winning 18 games in 2012.
"You know, barring injuries, who's going to be in front of you or behind you for the next four years," Harrison said. "Knowing you’re going to be with the same guys and that you can get to know each other and feed off each other and pick things up from each other will be a big help for all of us."
Jon Daniels’ focus: helping his team score runs.
The Rangers scored 730 runs in 163 games in 2013, their lowest average per game (4.48) since they moved into Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. They scored 78 fewer runs than in 2012. Since Daniels became GM, the Rangers scored at least 784 runs before 2013. So it was quite a drop-off.
“More or less we’ve been telling clubs our short-term needs are more on the offensive side,” Daniels said late last week. “We have some depth in a couple of areas organizationally and at the big league level. We’re open to different ideas.”
Daniels knows his team needs more production at first base. They need another outfielder, assuming Nelson Cruz declines the club’s qualifying offer as expected Monday afternoon, and they’ve got to figure out what they’re doing at designated hitter.
One position the Rangers will get calls about: middle infield. They’ve got a surplus there at the major league level with Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar ready for every day play with just two spots available. The Rangers will consider any and all options to alleviate that logjam, including trading one of those players. What about having someone change positions? Logically, that would be Kinsler, something the club broached last offseason, but didn’t act on.
“It’s something we have not discussed with the players yet," Daniels said. "It’s premature. We don’t know 100 percent what options may present themselves. I think obviously if we get to that point, we’ll talk to the players first. We’re not there yet."
Of course, Daniels won’t rule out another pitcher. Despite having four of the club’s five starters -- Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland and Martin Perez -- under contract through at least 2016, Daniels knows pitching depth can be tested in a hurry (as evidenced by injuries last year).
“If the right pitcher is there, I’d never rule that out either,” Daniels said, knowing offense is the priority. “It’s about adding impact players where you can.”
Daniels has stressed that he’s not out to “win” the offseason. He won’t allow a disappointing season to force him to react too strongly and get into contract situations that risk handcuffing the club in the future. But it’s a big opportunity to improve the club with some resources in the minor leagues to dangle in potential trades.
Stay tuned. It should be another interesting offseason to watch.
The move wasn't a tough decision for the club. It's likely not a tough one for Cruz, either. He's expected to decline the option and seek a multiyear deal. He has until next Monday at 4 p.m. to make his decision. But don't misunderstand: If he spurns the one-year, $14.1 million offer, it doesn't mean he's not wearing a Rangers uniform in 2014.
The Rangers, like any other team, would have the right to negotiate with Cruz. He said prior to the season ending that he wanted to test the market. But he's also made it clear he likes Texas and wants to stay. The club needs a power hitter and it knows Cruz well. It may simply come down to what the market will bear and how many years are on the table.
Of course, if Cruz decides he wants to play in Texas and for $14.1 million next season, the Rangers would gladly pay it and put him out there with Leonys Martin and Alex Rios, filling one of their offseason holes. Stay tuned.
Cruz was the only Ranger to receive a qualifying offer. The others -- David Murphy, Colby Lewis, A.J. Pierzynski and Geovany Soto -- can sign with any club, including Texas. If they do go elsewhere, the Rangers won't receive any kind of draft pick compensation. Joe Nathan is also a free agent after he declined the club option on his contract last week.
* The Rangers reinstated left-handed pitchers Matt Harrison and Edwar Cabrera from the 60-day DL. Harrison made two starts and ended up having three surgeries in 2013. He's expected to be ready for the 2014 season. Cabrera was claimed off Colorado's roster in October.
* RHP Ross Wolf and LHP Travis Blackley cleared waivers and were outrighted to the minor leagues. Wolf was signed to a 2014 minor league contract with an invitation to big league spring training. Blackley elected to become a free agent.
Wolf, 31, was 1-3 with a 4.15 ERA in 22 games (three of them starts) for the Rangers in 2013. It was his first season in the majors since 2007.
* The Rangers have 34 players on the 40-man roster now.
* RHP Lisalverto Bonilla, because of an injury to a pitcher from another organization, was added to the roster of the Surprise Saguaros in the Arizona Fall League. He's active starting tonight. Surprise's last game is Nov. 14.
It was supposed to be another consistent, defining year for Matt Harrison. He was coming off an 18-win season in 2012 and had put together two straight seasons of at least 30 starts and an ERA just over 3.00. Harrison had become a reliable pitcher, something he worked hard to accomplish. It earned him a new long-term deal from the Rangers for $55 million over five years.
Based on the 2012 season, it was Harrison and not Yu Darvish that got the start on opening night in Houston (Darvish would start Game 2 and nearly throw a perfect game against the Astros). Harrison gave up five earned runs on six hits in 5 2/3 innings in a loss. He was on the mound in Arlington a week later and allowed five runs on eight hits in five innings to the Los Angeles Angels.
It was after that start that Harrison complained of back pain. He got two injections and hoped to work through the pain and rehab so he wouldn't miss much time. But after the injections wore off, he experienced numbness down his left foot.
That prompted more evaluation and the decision to have surgery to repair a herniated disk. The initial diagnosis was that Harrison was out until at least the All-Star break but could potentially return at some point shortly after that. But Harrison required another back surgery and still was hopeful he could return to the rotation in September and help with the stretch run.
As Harrison attempted to complete a start during a rehab assignment in Triple-A Round Rock in August, he felt numbness in his throwing hand. So he had his third surgery of the season, this one ending any hopes of returning before 2014. Since the back wasn't going to allow him to pitch anymore during the season, he also had surgery to repair Thoracic Outlet Syndrome in his non-throwing shoulder. He had the same condition in 2009 in his left shoulder and had surgery to repair it.
Harrison is expected to be ready to go in the spring. But the surgeries meant the Rangers' rotation was without one of its workhorses from the previous two seasons. That forced some young pitchers into the rotation earlier than expected. Justin Grimm took Harrison's place in April, and Nick Tepesch also played a big role early in the season in the rotation. Grimm was later traded to Chicago as part of the Matt Garza deal.
At first, the Rangers survived OK without Harrison. But like any lingering absence or injury (see Nelson Cruz's suspension), it caught up to them. It's difficult for a rotation to simply move on when you lose a guy who won 18 games the previous season. The Rangers' rotation pitched well, but there's no question Harrison's presence was missed.
Today’s question: Do the Texas Rangers have enough rotation depth?
That's provided general manager Jon Daniels doesn't pull a stunner and trade either Holland and Perez -- that seems highly unlikely -- and that Harrison is 100 percent recovered from two back surgeries that limited him to only only two starts in 2013.
That leaves the Rangers needing a fifth starter. Is that guy Alexi Ogando? We've already discussed Ogando's situation in this series. The mere fact that Ogando was on the disabled list three times last season should make the Rangers pause and put the lanky right-hander back in the bullpen where he belongs.
Which means the Rangers are back to needing a fifth starter. Does that pitcher come from within the system, via trade or in free agency?
Let's start with the system. The Rangers are likely to bring back their own free agent, Colby Lewis, who spent all of last season trying to recover from elbow surgery and other ailments. Lewis is 34, the Rangers' best postseason pitcher of all time and deserves another chance with the team. But he can't be counted on in any way. If he makes it, that's a bonus.
As for that fifth starter spot, which will come up again Tuesday at Tampa Bay, that's still undecided.
But Rangers manager Ron Washington didn't shoot down the idea of Alexi Ogando, who is currently pitching out of the bullpen, making that start. Ogando picked up the win Sunday against the Los Angeles Angels, working 1⅓ scoreless innings out of the bullpen.
"Ogando has always been a candidate," Washington said. "We're trying to get him to face hitters. We'll make that decision as he moves deeper. Right now, he's going to be sitting in the bullpen."
Ogando has been on the disabled list three times this season while making 15 starts and going 5-4 with a 3.47 ERA. He's dealt with right shoulder inflammation and right biceps tendinitis.
Again, that doesn't mean he won't start Tuesday against the Rays. Nick Tepesch and Travis Blackley, who have made the past three starts when a fifth guy was needed, are also candidates for that start.
"I wouldn't be shocked if I see Ogando start a game," Washington said. "And I won't be shocked if I see him coming out of the bullpen. I just don't have an answer definitely today."
As long as Ogando is in the bullpen, he could pitch in back-to-back games. On a day such as Monday, when Ogando has worked the day before, it will all come down to the report pitching coach Mike Maddux provides to Washington before the game.
"If I did use him [Monday night], it would be for him to come and get some outs, not throw in multiple innings," Washington said. "We know what he can do coming out of that bullpen, and he did that yesterday. That's not to say you won't see him start a game, but for right now, he threw two innings yesterday and we'll find out how he feels today."
Murphy on sitting: David Murphy was out of the starting lineup Monday, and rookie Jim Adduci was in, as Washington is trying other options in left field.
Murphy also didn't play Sunday against the Angels.
"It's obvious," Washington said. "David is struggling. I'll play another guy and see what he can do."
Murphy is 5-for-27 in his past 12 games. He has the third-lowest batting average among American League qualifiers at .221. It's just been one of those seasons for a player who helped the Rangers reach the playoffs the past three seasons.
"You’d like to think at some point throughout the course of the season, I was going to figure something out, get on a hot streak and contribute," Murphy said. "That hasn’t exactly happened. I feel like I’ve been in a five-month slump basically. I might’ve had a five- or six-game streak where I hit .300, but I feel like most players have that 10-15-game streak a few times during the season where they hit .400 or .450. That just hasn’t happened."
Wash on Hurdle: The Pirates arrived in Arlington on Monday as baseball's surprise team, even though they were swept over the weekend by St. Louis and fell out of first place.
The Pirates are still 81-61 and guaranteed their first nonlosing season in 20 years. There's a reason for that, said Washington, when asked about the Buccos.
"Clint Hurdle," Washington said of the Pirates manager and Rangers hitting coach when they made it to their first World Series in 2010. "That's my impression. They have some talent over there. One thing that Clint has that he's always had -- he can communicate."
Washington didn't just stop at Hurdle's people skills. He also raved about his knowledge of the game.
"He's a well-prepared guy," Washington said. "He's very studious. He knows his opponents in and out. He knows his players in and out. And the general manager and ownership have given him what he needs to make a run. He's done a great job in three years."
Pressure? What pressure?: The Rangers are 1½ games behind Oakland with 20 games to play in another tight American League West race.
That would be cause for some tension, right? Wrong, Washington said Monday.
"I don't feel pressure," Washington said. "I've been in this game too long to feel pressure."
Berkman sits: Designated hitter Lance Berkman hasn't been in the starting lineup for five games now, going back to last Tuesday in Oakland, but he said Monday that he gets it.
Berkman was 0-for-6 in those two games, though Washington said Monday he thought the veteran had good at-bats. Berkman still will be used as a pinch hitter.
"I understand it," Berkman said. "You can't afford to let a guy get his feet wet in a pennant race. As a competitor, you obviously want to be out there and a part of things, but I don't hold a grudge. It's the circumstances of a pennant race."
Short hops: Left-hander Matt Harrison underwent Thoracic Outlet Syndrome surgery on his right side Monday. Harrison, who had the surgery on his left side in 2009 -- in addition to two back surgeries this year -- is expected to be ready for spring training. The Rangers are 25-14 in one-run games entering Monday, with nine wins in their past 13 of that kind.
In fact, it was Martin who went to Pettis to ask for extra work after he'd been caught stealing two days in a row and in three of the last four games.
Martin said he's been a little anxious on the basepaths, though manager Ron Washington said he hasn't seen it that way. Martin has been thrown out on six of his last 15 stolen-base attempts after swiping 16 in a row.
"He's been thrown out," Washington said. "I haven't seen anything about him being overanxious."
To their credit, Astros catcher Carlos Corporan and Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy both made perfect throws to nail Martin at second base in the last two games.
Still, if Martin gets himself in the right place with his lead and his jump, even the best catchers -- except for St. Louis' Yadier Molina -- can't throw him out. That's the Rangers' thinking.
"We just want to make sure his first movement is to second base," Pettis said.
Martin has been studying his baserunning on video. That prompted him to go to Pettis, who by the way, had already planned to go to Martin for a refresher course.
"I just need a better jump," Martin said. "I have to make a few adjustments on my try to steal second base."
Berkman's rehab: The Rangers don't appear to be in a hurry to bring designated hitter Lance Berkman back Friday when they open a three-game series against the Seattle Mariners.
Berkman was slated to play his fourth rehab game on Wednesday night, the second one for Double-A Frisco. That has been plenty of games and at-bats for Rangers' hitters on rehab assignments, but Berkman's ability to run the bases is still a concern.
"We'll see how he feels after this and make another call," Washington said. "We've got to leave him in the process. If we think he's ready, we'll make a call. If that's tomorrow, we'll make it."
Harrison gives take on 2013: Left-hander Matt Harrison, who was shut down with back issues on Tuesday, had a description for a 2013 season that saw him make two starts to begin the season, followed by two surgeries.
"It's been forgettable," Harrison said Wednesday. "At this point I just want to clear my head."
Harrison will take at least a few weeks before he picks up a baseball. He said he was 100 percent before he began his rehab assignment -- he made three starts -- but once he got going, he started feeling weakness in his back, then soreness in his elbow as he changed his arm slot.
"It just hasn't had enough time to heal yet," Harrison said. "My arm was dragging and my rhythm wasn't right."
Harrison expects to be fully healthy and ready for spring training.
Blackley adds protection: The addition of left-hander Travis Blackley gives the Rangers protection for their pitching staff, and also gives them a guy who had success against them.
Blackley, who pitched for Triple-A Round Rock, has eight wins in the major leagues, four of them against the Rangers.
"He's been a big league starter and had some success, especially he's had success against us," Washington said. "The way our starting pitchers have been dropping, we were lucky to get a guy like that. He does give us some insurance."
Ross makes progress: Left-hander Robbie Ross has struggled to get out left-handed hitters, but he retired both that he faced in the ninth inning on Tuesday night with the Rangers trailing 5-1.
"We gave him chance with no pressure to get it done, and he got it done," Washington said.
Martin talks Cuban slugger: The Rangers have been mentioned as one of the teams that could be heavily involved in the bidding for Cuban slugger Jose Abreu, who according to reports has defected and is currently in Haiti.
The 26-year-old first baseman/DH has a fan with the Rangers: fellow countryman Leonys Martin, who said Wednesday that Abreu has the best power of all the Cuban players. "Big power," Martin said.
Bidding for Abreu is supposed to take place around the time the free-agent season opens in November.
Tepesch closer to mound: Right-hander Nick Tepesch said Wednesday that he expects to throw from a mound some time in the next week. He has been throwing for the last week from 120 feet.
Tepesch has been on the 15-day disabled list with right elbow inflammation since July 7.
|Adam Rosales joins Galloway and Company to discuss his experience on waivers and his excitement to be a part of the Rangers. |
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said Tuesday the club would look for protection for its big league pitching staff since starters Matt Harrison and Colby Lewis were lost for the season in the past week.
Team doctors decided Tuesday that Harrison, who had a pair of back surgeries in April and May, needed rest after three rehab starts caused elbow inflammation. Harrison was overcompensating because of the back issue, Daniels said. The 27-year-old Harrison is expected to be ready for spring training in 2014.
Lewis, 34, will have hip surgery next week in New York City. The Rangers are open to re-signing Lewis, who is a free agent at the end of the season.
Blackley, 30, has spent the entire season with the Astros organization. He is 1-1 with a 4.89 ERA for 42 relief appearances for Houston, allowing 10 home runs.
Blackley has eight career wins, four of them against the Rangers. The Australian native has held left-handed batters to a .231 average for his career.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The waiting game is over for the Rangers.
Colby Lewis is having hip surgery next week in New York City and is done for the season. Matt Harrison still needs to get his back stronger before he can pitch again, and he won't pitch again this season.
Even though the Rangers were cautiously optimistic about Lewis and Harrison returning this season, the team never pinned its hopes on them. That's why general manager Jon Daniels reacted quickly on the trade market, acquiring the best starting pitcher out there, Matt Garza, nine days before the trade deadline.
When it comes to pitchers returning from injuries, there are no guarantees. It's a tough business, especially for hurlers.
"We didn’t know these two guys would have setbacks at the time [of the Garza trade]," Daniels said. "Until you know someone is back, there’s always some risk involved. We love our pitching staff as it is; it’s just fingers crossed that we don’t have another injury."
It's also fingers crossed that Alexi Ogando makes progress in the final 42 games of the season. His command was better in Texas' 5-1 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday, but he allowed three home runs -- one each to Scooter Gennett and Khris Davis, who had a combined five long balls coming into the game.
Whatever happens with Ogando, expect the Rangers to continue to look at pitchers put on waivers to see if another addition to the staff is necessary.
"We’ll look," Daniels said before Tuesday's game. "If there is something, it’ll be more than likely in the protection category. We may look for some depth. I don’t really have any expectations that we’ll get a starting pitcher that will crack our starting five. You can always improve your depth, and that’s what we’re looking at."
WHAT'S UP NOW: Rapid reaction from Tuesday night's 5-1 loss to Milwaukee. Nelson Cruz is headed to the Dominican Republic to work out. Plus, a postgame blog on Ogando's Tuesday night performance.
ON DECK: The Rangers finish off a two-game series against Milwaukee with right-hander Matt Garza (1-1, 2.82 ERA) facing Brewers right-hander Tyler Thornburg (1-0, 1.72) at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday night on Fox Sports Southwest and ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and 1540-AM.
QUESTION OF THE DAY: What did you think of Alexi Ogando's start on Tuesday night? Did you see improvement?
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Texas Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz will spend the next 12 days in the Dominican Republic training at his home gym, the first step to possibly returning to the team when his 50-game Biogenesis suspension is completed.
That would coincide with the Rangers making the postseason. And as far as that goes, the Rangers haven't made a decision yet about whether he'd play. They have to get there first.
|Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' hot streak and quick turnaround since their slump in July. |
"First of all, we have to get there. We’re not going to get ahead of ourselves. We’ve got to get there first to have the conversation."
Daniels repeated what he said last week when Cruz was suspended for the rest of the regular season. The All-Star outfielder's conditioning, how the team is playing, how the club is jelling, all of that will factor into the Rangers' decision.
At that point, the Rangers would probably let Cruz play in games in the fall instruction league.
Daniels said Cruz will also work out a few times at the Rangers' complex in Boca Chica while he is home.
"He’s been in touch with our conditioning staff and has his program," Daniels said. "Once he gets back, we’ll have a next step at that point."
Washington on Harrison: The Rangers announced Tuesday that left-handed starter Matt Harrison will not pitch again this season because of issues with his surgically repaired back.
Harrison will rest and get ready for the offseason and spring training. There is no structural damage to his back, so Harrison should return ready to go in 2014.
"It's disappointing for Harrison's sake," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He worked so hard to get back. It just didn't work out. It's just another adverse happening in our 2013 year as the Texas Rangers. We'll figure out a way to move forward and wish Harrison good health."
Rosales hopes to settle in: Utility man Adam Rosales started his second stint with the Rangers on Tuesday after being reclaimed by Texas on Monday.
Since Aug. 2, he has been on the Oakland A's roster twice and now the Rangers twice as the teams have swapped claiming him off waivers. He made a smart move by leaving his car in Dallas. Rosales realizes that until Sept. 1, when rosters expand, he's on standby.
"I didn't have any options yet so teams have to designate me," Rosales said. "That's why we're playing pingpong."
The Rangers have a bigger need for Rosales this time around after Triple-A Round Rock infielder Leury Garcia went to the Chicago White Sox on Sunday to complete the Alex Rios trade.
"With us giving up Leury, we certainly didn't have anything to back up our infield," Washington said. "We wanted him when we claimed him the first time. We were just hoping no one would claim him when we put him back out there."
Berkman's running still issue: Designated hitter Lance Berkman was set to play Tuesday and Wednesday for Double-A Frisco, provided the weather cooperated.
He was 3-for-7 with a home run in two games with Triple-A Round Rock. But running on his ailing left hip and right knee has still been difficult.
"He swung the bat well," Washington said. "He's still having issues with the running. We'll see if it's getting better with two games in Frisco."
Short hops: Right-hander Neftali Feliz is still day-to-day with Triple-A Round Rock due to triceps tendinitis. He's scheduled to throw a bullpen session Wednesday. ... Round Rock catcher Eli Whiteside, a possible call-up when rosters expand in September, was 3-for-4 with his fifth home run Monday. ... Joe Nathan earned his 35th save in Houston on Monday, giving him eight seasons with 35-plus saves. The only other two closers to do that in major league history are Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman, who have each done it 12 times.
The Texas Rangers head into Monday's action one game ahead in the AL West despite a rash of injuries and the suspension of Nelson Cruz. The fact that manager Ron Washington has managed to keep his team together and in contention with everything going on around him is one of the top jobs done by anyone this season and should have him in contention for AL manager of the year.
But is it the best job he's done since becoming skipper prior to the 2007 season? Let's look at some of the choices:
2010: In the middle of spring training, Washington had to get up and apologize to his team once news of a failed drug test became public. Washington then held a news conference and his entire team showed up in support. The skipper handled that situation as well as he could have, and his team rallied behind him. But that wasn't the only obstacle he dealt with that season. The team was facing financial troubles once former owner Tom Hicks was forced to sell, and the future of the Rangers ended up in court. Washington would not allow his club to lose focus from what it could control on the field, even when he had to make an appearance in bankruptcy court himself. While the team went through an auction that eventually resulted in an ownership group of Ray Davis, Bob Simpson, Nolan Ryan and Chuck Greenberg -- who is no longer with the organization -- the Rangers just kept winning. Washington navigated his squad through the AL in the playoffs, too, resulting in the first World Series appearance for the franchise.
|ESPN Dallas' Todd Wills joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to react to the Rangers' trade for Alex Rios and discuss how it impacts the team down the stretch. |
To me, this is Washington's best season, considering everything that's gone on. This was a team many didn't expect to stay as competitive as it has. What do you think? Which season of the three above is Washington's best?
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to tackle the tough questions after his team failed to advance to the playoffs.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss having Nelson Cruz back in the lineup and how the Rangers are feeling heading into their wild-card play-in game against the Rays.
Play Podcast ESPN Insider and senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the wild-card race and the Rangers' chances of making the playoffs.
Play Podcast Chuck Cooperstein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why he feels Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish isn't an ace.
Play Podcast Elvis Andrus joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' stretch run and the morale level in their clubhouse.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss the latest Rangers news, including the team's struggles, Ron Washington's job security and a rumored trade with the Braves.
Play Podcast Ron Washington joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Rangers' dismal September, who's to blame for their September struggles and his status as the team's manager.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss how some people are calling for the Rangers to fire manager Ron Washington.