Aside from the warm and fuzzy feelings surrounding Matt Harrison's return to the big leagues after a 14-month layoff and an unprecedented surgery that no pitcher had ever returned from, there wasn't much good about the lefty's return to the Rangers on Wednesday night.
Sure, he returned to action after being told there was only about a 20 percent chance he'd do so following his spinal fusion surgery, and that was really a great thing to see. But the actual product he put on the field? As expected, it left a lot to be desired.
Harrison's fastball topped out at 90 mph, but averaged 87 mph, which isn't going to cut it in Major League Baseball unless your name is Greg Maddux. He got out of the first inning, thanks to a double play, but he allowed five runs in the second inning and was chased with no outs in the fifth, allowing six runs on the night.
Harrison had to have been happy to be back, but in true Harrison fashion, he didn't put too much stock into the feel-good story of his return, only the bad result.
“I’ve got to get better,” Harrison told the Dallas Morning News. “I definitely wasn’t at my best tonight. I made some mistakes. I’ve got to get better at getting ahead of guys and being more aggressive. I very much want to redeem myself.”
The result wasn't surprising, given the fact he hadn't pitched in an MLB game in 14 months and wasn't spectacular on his 30-day rehab assignment. The concern is that stuff just isn't there anymore, and it remains to be seen if he'll be able to stay in the Rangers' rotation, or even on the roster.
But none of that mattered on Wednesday night.
“Personally, I’m proud of the trek he’s made,” manager Jeff Banister said. “Obviously it’s not the result he’d like but for him to pitch and face major league batters again, that’s a story. He made some pitches. He settled in a little bit. I felt like as the game went on the sharpness on his pitches improved and the velocity creeped up a little bit.”