Injury delays Profar's emergence

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- This was supposed to be the season Jurickson Profar showed all of us why so many folks considered him baseball's best prospect at the start of last season.

Especially since Profar's results weren't overwhelming.

The Rangers traded mercurial second baseman Ian Kinsler to the Detroit Tigers for power-hitting first baseman Prince Fielder just to create a spot for Profar, and manager Ron Washington told the kid he was going to be his personal mentor.

Well, we're going to have to wait a while longer to see if Profar is everything we've heard he could be on a baseball diamond.

Profar will miss the next 10-12 weeks with a small tear in his right shoulder, which means he might not return until after the All-Star break.

The only good news is the injury doesn't require surgery.

Assistant general manager Thad Levine said Profar injured his shoulder in the sixth inning of Saturday's game against the Kansas City Royals while making a relay throw as he tried to complete a double play started by third baseman Adrian Beltre.

Profar still had some soreness in his shoulder when he arrived at the ballpark Sunday morning, so he had an MRI because he had tendinitis in the same shoulder earlier this spring.

The MRI revealed a small tear in his teres major.

"The MRI showed a tear that was adjacent to and different from the muscle he sustained a previous injury to," Levine said. "He should be a weapon for us in the second half of the season, maybe a little bit earlier."

This spring training has been one injury after another for the Rangers. Actually, the injuries started before spring training, when pitcher Derek Holland tripped over his dog, fell down a fight of stairs in his home and injured his knee.

He had microfracture surgery that will keep him out until at least the All-Star break.

Then came Profar's bout with tendinitis early in camp, and just as he was getting over that, he missed a few days after having four wisdom teeth pulled. Beltre has been slowed by a quadriceps strain, right fielder Alex Rios had an abdominal strain and Yu Darvish's Opening Day start is beginning to get iffy because of a stiff neck.

And no one seems to be able to locate the 3-4 mph reliever Neftali Feliz has lost on his fastball, which essentially eliminated him from winning the closer job.

Now, Profar could miss as much as three months.

Seems as though it's time for owners Ray Davis and Bob Simpson to hire a private investigator just to make sure Kinsler doesn't have a voodoo doll.

Stop laughing.

Remember, Kinsler did say in an ESPN The Magazine feature that he wanted the Rangers to go 0-162 this season.

"All of it is unfortunate," Washington said. "We're a big league club, and this just gives someone else an opportunity to show what they can do.

"Our job is to keep [the] clubhouse in order and do the best we can to help them continue to believe, because I believe."

For now, the obvious candidate to replace Profar is Josh Wilson, a nonroster invitee who has clearly impressed Washington with his defense. Wilson had been the front-runner to win the utility infielder job.

As for the utility infielder job, that competition probably will involve Adam Rosales -- who has had a poor camp but is still with the Rangers -- or minor leaguers Brent Lillibridge, Kensuke Tanaka or Rougned Odor, the Rangers' top prospect. For what it's worth, Lillibridge was the Opening Day second baseman for the Chicago White Sox last season.

"Everyone we feel can help us is an option," Washington said. "Everyone. Everyone. Believe me, we'll be OK.

"We're going to miss Profar, but we're going to move on, and we'll still win some ballgames."

Last season, Profar hit just .234 with six homers and 26 RBIs in 286 at-bats while serving as a utility infielder.

The Rangers expected him to be much more of an impact player. That's why Washington told the 21-year-old Profar that he wanted him to discard every potential distraction entering this season.

Translation: You're going to be in the lineup every day, so have fun and play.

"If we can keep his head straight, he'll be fine," Washington said. "Guys get messed up when they start thinking about stuff other than the game. I don't want him worrying about anything except playing the game.

"I believe in him. He has to believe in himself, and I can't do that for him. But if he doesn't have to worry about whether he's going to be in the lineup, then he should be relaxed, and if he's relaxed, he should give me the best he has to give."

Unfortunately, we probably won't know if Washington's hypothesis is correct until after the All-Star break.