An already short-handed Texas Rangers rotation took another big hit on Friday when it was learned that opening day starter Matt Harrison's ailing back will require surgery and keep him sidelined until at least the all-star break.
Harrison first hit the disabled list on April 7 with what was described as a lower-back strain. That was initially treated with multiple epidural injections designed to alleviate discomfort and hopefully expedite his return. When those did not work, further testing was done and that's where the Rangers learned his condition was worse than anticipated.
Rangers GM Jon Daniels says Matt Harrison has a herniated disk. Will have back surgery Tuesday. — Anthony Andro (@aandro) April 19, 2013
Ouch. Harrison now joins Neftali Feliz (elbow), Colby Lewis (elbow) and Martin Perez (fractured forearm) as Rangers starting pitchers on the disabled list. They're also without Joakim Soria (elbow) and Kyle McClellan (lat) in their bullpen.
The good news: Both Lewis and Perez are ticketed for May returns, which will certainly be welcomed.
The bad news: Feliz isn't expected back until very late in the seasons as he continues his recovery from Tommy John surgery.
And that's what makes Harrison's loss so damaging. He's not an ace in a true sense of the word, but the past two seasons he's been dependable and has put up workhorse type numbers across the board. They will miss his presence greatly, but as general manager Jon Daniels noted on Friday, it's better to miss him now and get him healthy than to continue administering treatment that wasn't working.
"Matt's particularly important to us and I think his decision to have it now rather than wait, once it seemed like this was where it was headed, we're all in agreement that it's the best thing for him and the club rather than wait and kind of waste two or three weeks," Daniels said. "It doesn't appear that rehab was going to be effective."
For now the Rangers will go forward with a rotation that includes Yu Darvish and Derek Holland on top, with Alexi Ogando, Nick Tepesch and Justin Grimm slotting in behind them. Not nearly as dynamic as they're envisioned, and the lack of experience (Tepesch and Grimm have six total MLB starts) is concerning, but perhaps on the on-the-job-training will prove beneficial in the long run.