We're getting close to Opening Day and that means it is time to focus in on nine of the stories worth following this Rangers season. We'll run them down one a day between now and April 6th, with staying healthy up for discussion in the third inning.
Depending on how you choose to approach life, the fact that the Rangers dealt with a ton of injuries last season could be seen as a blessing or a curse.
If you're the glass is half full type, you see all of those missed games and tell yourself that the Rangers should have had an even more successful season in 2011 than the one that wound up one strike short of a World Series title. Players like Adrian Beltre, Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz could have put up dream seasons if not for injuries and now they'll just do it in 2012.
The flip side of that is the fact that these developments weren't actually surprising. Every day that Cruz takes a step without pulling a muscle in his leg must be seen as a grand cosmic victory and Hamilton's inability to stop hurting himself is legendary at this point in time. Ian Kinsler has a long injury history of his own, so his 155 games last season could well be a sign that something bad is overdue to happen to him.
And that's just the lineup. Neftali Feliz's shoulder tightness is never deemed a big problem, but it's more than a minor irritation since it keeps on happening. Joe Nathan has had arm trouble in the past and three members of the staff -- Derek Holland, Matt Harrison and Alexi Ogando -- are coming off serious jumps in workload last season.
Jumps like that can often foreshadow health problems which leaves us firmly on the pessimistic side of the coin when it comes to the Rangers' injuries. There are just a few too many red flags to feel entirely comfortable about this group going the distance without key players missing large chunks of the season.
Should those players be out one or two at a time, the Rangers are deep enough to cope with their absences. An imperfect storm of injuries, something the team avoided last season, would seriously hinder their chances at repeating as the top dog in the American League.
It takes good fortune to wind up in the World Series two straight years, something that can be overlooked amid more tangible questions about talent and results. Predicting how fortune will favor a team is a waste of time and energy, but there's no denying the impact it has on the results.