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Geovany Soto, 2014 Texas Rangers
Ah, the sounds of Spring. Birds chirping. College kids partying. The crack of a baseball bat.
And, inevitably, the worst sound: A baseball manager trying to spin his club’s latest injury.
“It’s an opportunity,” Rangers’ manager Ron Washington said yet again Monday in Surprise, Ariz., “for someone else to step up.”
Because if someone else needs to step up, it means someone else is sitting down. And the day after losing second baseman Jurickson Profar for three months, the Rangers lost starting catching Geovany Soto for the same time period with a torn meniscus in his right knee. Soto was squatting behind the plate when his knee locked up and he couldn’t straighten his leg.
Unfortunately for the Rangers, injuries have become the prevailing storyline in Spring Training. Not long ago trumpeted as baseball’s deepest organization, they’ll now limp into next week’s Opening Day without at least five front-line players in their regular roles (Profar, Soto, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland and Elvis Andrus). And now there is uncertainty about Yu Darvish and his stiff neck. Ouch.
Bad enough that the Rangers have to sift through journeyman infielders to replace Profar at second, but now who catches the potential Cy Young winner and the patchwork staff behind the plate until June?
That answer is either J.P. Arencibia or Robinson Chirinos. Exactly. Arencibia is a veteran who hit 21 homers – but only .221 – with the Blue Jays last season. But the Rangers aren’t apparently handing him the interim job, because Chirinos – who has played all of 33 games in the Majors – has had a much better Spring, going 12 for 27 (.444) to Arencibia’s 10 for 45 (.222).
“We’ve lost two everyday players and there is no way to sugarcoat that,” general manager Jon Daniels told reporters in Arizona on Monday. “It is what it is. We’ll look towards our depth and see where we go from here.”
Let’s face it, the Rangers have been lucky injury-wise during their run of success. But these are the kinds of injuries – prolonged and up the middle – that could derail a train before it even gets started rolling down the track. Maybe by the All-Star break all the players will return and we’ll barely remember the litany of injuries back in March.
Or, perhaps this will be the season the Rangers lost before they ever started winning.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently writes a sports/guy stuff blog at DFWSportatorium.com and lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.