Texas Rangers Spring Training Outlook: Injuries Aren't a Major Concern
Rewind back to 2014. The Rangers were right in the middle of a seven year-long contention window and coming off two seasons that ended in disappointing fashions. The front office swapped star second baseman Ian Kinsler for slugging first baseman Prince Fielder. Top-prospect Jurickson Profar was ready to step in. The next era of Rangers baseball was upon us all.
Fast forward to now. We now look back on 2014 as one of the most cursed years in modern Rangers history. A comical amount of injuries stacked up throughout the entire roster. We could name every player that suffered injuries that season, but all you'd have to do is look at the 40-man roster from that season. There's a good chance every one of them spent time on the injured list.
Jurickson Profar missed all of 2014 and 2015. With the exception of an all star 2015 season, Prince Fielder dealt with injuries that not only cut his 2014 season short, but cut his career short in 2016. He was forced to retire after 89 games in 2016 and the Rangers are still paying off his contract in 2020.
Even when the Rangers have seasons where the injuries become aggravating, we can always look back in 2014 and know that it can get worse. A lot worse.
The Rangers enter 2020 with a number of questions surrounding them. They are coming out of a three-year rebuild and have younger talent that is looking to take more steps forward in their development. There are also some veterans who are on some shorter leashes and are expected to step up and perform.
Thankfully, as the Rangers head into camp, their bill of health is about as clean as it can possibly be – at least on the Major League side. Some prospects like Taylor Hearn and Hans Crouse are coming off injury-plagued seasons in 2019 and need to bounce back in 2020.
Jon Daniels met with reporters via conference call on Thursday and gave updates on any players that they anticipate being behind in Surprise. Fortunately, the list was pretty short.
They expect Brock Burke to be behind at spring training with a shoulder injury. They also expect Sam Travis to be behind. Travis tweaked a hamstring while training this offseason. The Rangers acquired Travis from the Red Sox in exchange for Jeffrey Springs, who had just been designated for assignment for the second time this offseason.
The Rangers don't anticipate new-comer Kyle Gibson to be behind per se, but they will be cautious with one of their new starting pitchers.
"Kyle Gibson is a guy we've got to evaluate when we get out there," Daniels said. "He's put on quite a bit of weight [in a good way] even since he signed....We expressed to him when we signed him that we wanted to be cautious on the front end to make sure he's physically strong enough to take on the workload that comes with being a starter."
Daniels specifically mentioned erring on the side of caution with Gibson more than once as camp opens up next week. Gibson is coming off a season where he dealt with ulcerative colitis, the same condition that reliever Jake Diekman dealt with as a Ranger.
All of the Rangers that dealt with major injuries in 2019 are expected to be healthy, including newly-acquired and two-time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber. He made only seven starts in 2019, but told reporters last month he is healthy and where he usually is in his offseason program.
A couple of incumbent players that had health issues in 2019 are also healthy. Joey Gallo, who was limited to 70 games due to a broken hamate bone, is also healthy and been working out all offseason with a crop of players that live locally. Jeff Mathis, who dealt with back issues last season, was absent from Jon Daniels' list of injured players as the team gets ready to head to spring training.
It's refreshing to know the Rangers are going into spring training with a high percentage of their Major League roster healthy and ready to compete. If everyone could get off to a clean start, it could be a real bonus for the Rangers. This team has a lot to work out within several internal competitions for roster spots. When health isn't a concern, more focus can go into baseball.
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