Just when it seemed the Rangers couldn't possibly suffer worse injury luck this year, they received their most damaging news to date. Prince Fielder will undergo surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck.
The surgery, slated for Tuesday, will cost him the rest of the season.
Fielder was involved in one of the biggest trades in recent memory when the Rangers shipped second baseman Ian Kinsler to Detroit to acquire the slugging first baseman. The plan had Jurickson Profar sliding into Kinsler's second base position, and Fielder slotting in the middle of what looked like the American League's best lineup. It was a financial risk, to be sure, but one the Rangers were happy to take.
Fielder never looked comfortable this season, and slogged his way to a .247/.360/.360 slash line with three homers in 42 games. In a cruel twist of fate, Fielder had been one of the most durable players in the league before this year. He had never been on the disabled list, and had played in 547 consecutive games before missing last Saturday's game because of his neck. He had a nerve root injection over the weekend and felt better for a short time, but the pain came back almost immediately upon swinging a bat.
Including this year, the Rangers owe Fielder $138 million through 2020.
That wasn't the only bad injury news for the Rangers on Thursday. The team announced that Profar, the other key part to the Fielder-Kinsler trade because of what his flexibility meant for Texas, had suffered a setback in his shoulder rehab and would be immediately shut down. While the team has yet to make anything official, he is expected to be out another 8-12 weeks, meaning his season is essentially over as well. To add insult to injury, Kinsler is hitting .317/.347/.456 for a Detroit team that has the second best record in baseball.
It has simply been a nightmare season for the Rangers. In addition to Profar, Derek Holland and Geovany Soto have yet to suit up in 2014. Martin Perez' promising start to the year was cut short due to an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery. Matt Harrison may undergo spinal fusion surgery, a procedure that would end his career.
Texas is 23-24 and already trails the league-best Athletics by 7.5 games in the AL West. The Angels are much improved this year, and currently sit four games better than the Rangers at 26-20. GM Jon Daniels has never been afraid to make a splash at the trade deadline, but they're operating at such a deficit that this could feasibly change the way they approach the rest of the season. Mitch Moreland will move from DH into an everyday role at first base. Michael Choice is the most likely candidate to take over as the regular DH for the time being.