ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 27: Matt Harrison #54 of the Texas Rangers delivers a pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on April 27, 2012 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images)
Matt Harrison, with the help of some timely double plays, was on his way to his second shutout in three weeks on Sunday evening. After five innings pitched, he had a 4-0 lead over the Colorado Rockies and was at just 74 pitches when Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington and pitching coach Mike Maddux decided Harrison was finished for the day due to lower back stiffness he'd complained about.
Harrison said he was hurting after the third, fourth and fifth innings before the Rangers' coaches finally decided they'd seen enough, much to the chagrin of Harrison, who pleaded to stay in the game.
“Once he let us know that he was feeling a little stiffness we just took him out. We weren’t taking any chances,” Washington said after the game. “Of course, Harry didn’t want to come out, but we weren’t taking any chances. He will make his next start.”
Harrison seemed confident in that, as well. He's next scheduled to take the hill on Friday against the A's.
“I saw the doc [Rangers physician Keith Meister] and he said it was just a very mild stiffness in the lower back so he said see how it feels tomorrow,” Harrison told reporters. “But I feel confident that I’ll be good to go.”
The good diagnosis for Harrison was a huge relief for the Rangers, who already have starting pitchers Derek Holland and Neftali Feliz, as well as reliever-turned-spot-starter Alexi Ogando on the disabled list. Another starting pitcher injury right now would cripple things as they'd either have to make another minor-league call-up or put Scott Feldman back in the rotation — neither of which is an ideal situation.
With all that being said, Harrison understood why he was removed, even if it meant he had to sit and watch for four innings and make sure his teammates could hold up AL-leading 10th win of the season.
“I’m not very happy about being a five-and-dive guy today,” he said, “but with the situation, I had to come out. I just hope to continue what I’m doing.”