Will Carroll
Wednesday February 29th, 2012

By Jeff Stotts, ATC, Special to SI.com

The Rangers defended their AL pennant and were twice just a strike away from the first World Series title in club history before losing in heartbreaking fashion. The team remains committed to its young pitching talent, letting veteran CJ Wilson walk while landing the highly-coveted Yu Darvish. Head Athletic Trainer Jamie Reed will have his hands full as the Rangers lineup remains talented but injury-prone. Five of their everyday position players made at least one trip to the disabled list last season with a variety of traumatic and chronic injuries. Former MVP Josh Hamilton avoided the lingering lower leg injuries that forced teammate Nelson Cruz to spend two lengthy trips on the disabled list but missed a significant stretch after breaking his shoulder sliding headfirst into home plate. A young pitching staff avoided any serious problems, but Reed will asked to work his magic once again, supervising a crop of pitchers coming off a season of increased workload or being asked to amp up their pitch count for the upcoming year. He also must oversee Darvish?s transition from the Japanese League to the MLB and make sure Darvish doesn't overwork himself.

Health Keys: Carefully managing their often-injured offensive weapons while monitoring their young and still developing pitching staff.

(HEAD TRAINER: Jamie Reed; FIVE YEAR RANK: 23; 2011 RANK: 26)
For explanation of these ratings, click here
GREEN LIGHT
1B Mitch Moreland
Despite flirting with Prince Fielder, Texas stayed the course and will begin the season with Moreland at first. The team feels the unusual offseason surgery on his wrist was successful and should get him back on track.

SS Elvis Andrus
Several minor wear-and-tear injuries couldn't slow Andrus, as he played in 150 games for the first time in his young career. Texas rewarded his consistency with a three-year contract that will make him a free agent at the ripe age of 25. Scott Boras is already salivating at the thought.

Also Green:
DH Michael Young
LF David Murphy
RP Mike Adams
YELLOW LIGHT
3B Adrian Beltre
A calf injury in spring training slowed his start and a significant hamstring strain cost him nearly 40 games but he's done a good job of staying healthy for the bulk of his career. His 124 games last season were his lowest total since his rookie season.

SP Yu Darvish
Japan's biggest star joins the Rangers after five seasons with the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters. Though he averaged 25 starts per season overseas, an increased workload is expected with his transition to the MLB. Minor knee and back injuries are not considered serious but a case of "shoulder fatigue" earlier in his career is worth noting.

SP Matt Harrison
Despite the major increase in innings pitched last season, Harrison remains yellow based on his prior work. He spent 2010 in the bullpen but pitched more than 160 innings as a starter in 2009, improving his odds for a healthy 2012 campaign.

SP Colby Lewis
Lewis surrendered the most home runs in baseball last season but his overall numbers were remarkably similar to the previous season. A large workload and age will play a factor moving forward.

RP Joe Nathan
Two years removed from Tommy John surgery, the veteran will take over closing duties for Texas with Neftali Feliz headed for the rotation. His numbers were much improved in the second half of last season after returning from a flexor strain but there's still reason for slight trepidation moving forward.

RED LIGHT
C Mike Napoli
Even though Napoli continues to split time behind the plate, the perils of the catching position increase the veteran's risk. His size and a lingering ankle injury, sustained in the postseason, don't help the situation either.

2B Ian Kinsler
A rare talent at second base, Kinsler put together his second 30-30 season playing in a career-best 155 games. However, his laundry list of injuries still increase the inherent risk associated with the All-Star.

CF Josh Hamilton
In addition to combating his personal demons, Hamilton continues to battle injury issues. He suffered a fracture in his shoulder in April and needed offseason surgery to repair a sports hernia. He's one of the best in baseball when he's healthy but regular trips to the DL limit his production.

RF Nelson Cruz
While he?s dangerous with his "boomstick," he can't boom from the bench. Cruz has made five trips to DL over the past two seasons with hamstring and quad problems. He spent the offseason trying to improve the flexibility and strength in his legs, but we heard similar reports prior to last season. A slimmer physique may help as Cruz will report to camp 10 pounds lighter than normal.

S1 Derek Holland
Holland had a huge danger sign with a rotator cuff issue in 2010. It didn't slow the lefty as his workload increased by over 70 innings. A dramatic jump like that leaves him susceptible to a letdown.

SP Neftali Feliz
Texas has had previous success with bullpen pitchers joining the rotation, most notably CJ Wilson. However, Feliz experienced shoulder inflammation following last year's spring training, in which he flirted with idea of becoming a starter. Expect a strict innings limit moving forward. He also may need time to clear his head after surrendering the series shifting two-run triple to St. Louis' David Freese in Game 6 of the World Series.

Jeff Stotts is a Certified Athletic Trainer and writes regularly for Rotowire.

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