For a guy like Matt Harrison, who is a bulldog on the mound and a guy who, when healthy, is known for durability in eclipsing the 200-inning mark, his big step on Wednesday had to be a bit frustrating.
But considering what Harrison is recovering from, the fact he played light catch for 10 minutes from 30-45 feet is a big, big deal.
Harrison is recovering from spinal fusion surgery, which could end his pitching career as there is no real precedent for pitchers returning from such surgery. He hasn't pitched meaningfully for the Rangers since the 2012 season as he missed all but a few games of each of the past two seasons with back problems.
Now, he will play catch again on Friday as he begins a Monday-Wednesday-Friday throwing schedule with hopes of building distance leading up to spring training and hopefully taking the mound for the first time on March 1, which would obviously have him behind all the other pitchers with a best-case target return date of May 1.
“Considering that when I had the surgery last year, I didn’t know if I’d ever throw a baseball again, it’s a big step,” Harrison told The Dallas Morning News Wednesday from his North Carolina home. “I feel good. I’d like to go faster, but the Rangers want to be cautious. I understand that.”
In his last full season of 2012, Harrison was named an all-star when he went 18-11 with a 3.29 ERA with 213 1/3 innings. In the two seasons since, he combined to make six starts since signing a six-year, $57.95 million deal with a team option for 2018. Luckily, the Rangers have been able to recoup a good amount of the money from the past two seasons thanks to an insurance policy on the deal.