SURPRISE, AZ - FEBRUARY 20: Pitcher Matt Harrison #54 of the Texas Rangers poses for a portrait during spring training photo day at Surprise Stadium on February 20, 2013 in Surprise, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Matt Harrison hasn't had much to be happy about over the past year. He made two starts in 2013 — neither of which were good — and then was shut down before going under the knife three times for surgeries between then and now.
Looking to get back to the starting rotation when he reported to spring training this year, Harrison slept on a bad mattress one of the first nights he was in Arizona and had to return to DFW for tests because of lower back stiffness. On Tuesday, Harrison took his first step toward getting back in the Rangers' rotation when he threw in a "B game" against the Kansas City Royals, throwing against live hitters for the first time in spring training.
Harrison threw an inning in the game, and the results didn't matter. But hey, they were pretty good. He needed just 11 pitches to get out of an inning and actually faced some good big-league hitters — a rarity in a B game. He retired Alcides Escobar, got a fielder's choice grounder from Eric Hosmer and even made the run to cover first base on a grounder.
Harrison knows Tuesday was only a step in the process, but it's better than not taking one.
“The big test is how I recover,” Harrison said. “I don’t see anything changing. I feel good and expect to keep progressing.”
Harrison is expected to start the season in the minors after his setback earlier in spring training. But he doesn't plan on missing more than a series or two.