OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 02: Matt Harrison #54 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the Oakland Athletics at O.co Coliseum on October 2, 2012 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
It's been a long year for Matt Harrison — a long year of rehab, getting back to health and setbacks. Lather, rinse, repeat. You get the picture.
But on Sunday, the road comes to an end as the Texas Rangers starting pitcher will make his first start in the bigs since April 6 of last season, which was his second start of the year, before being shut down and having surgery to repair herniated disks in his back.
After it seemed he could be be back for September, he had another issue and ended up needing surgery on his non-throwing shoulder for throacic outlet syndrome. On Sunday in Seattle, Harrison will return to the mound.
It's not really safe to expect a lot from Harrison — see Colby Lewis' first start in 21 months a couple of weeks ago — but the fact he's going to be back out on the mound will instill some confidence and give some peace of mind to the Rangers, who have been using a hodge-podge of starting pitchers so far this year with guys like Nick Martinez, Joe Saunders and converted relievers Robbie Ross and Tanner Scheppers.
Harrison is set to take the Martinez/Saunders spot in the rotation, and if all goes well, he'll stay there.
"I'm excited to finally get back here," Harrison told reporters. "The way it went last year, I didn't think I'd ever pitch again."
Those are some serious words from a 28-year-old coming off consecutive good seasons in 2011 and 2012 and seemingly finding his identity as a pitcher in the Martin Perez mold of inducing endless amounts of groundball outs.
It's a big step for Harrison on Sunday, and while the results might not be optimal initially, don't sweat it.