The Texas Rangers have a big decision to make, and it involves a veteran starting pitcher who's looking to make medical history in the sport, but just might not be ready.
Matt Harrison is looking to become the first pitcher to start in the big leagues after a spinal fusion surgery. He's made a handful of rehab starts, is stretched out to around 100 pitches and is working six innings-plus with Double-A Frisco and Triple-A Round Rock.
Yet, he might not be ready to return to the Rangers' rotation. Sadly, he might not ever be.
Harrison appears healthy, as seen by the aforementioned stretching out and pitch counts, but he doesn't seem very effective as he's not getting his fastball into the 90s — velocity that won't cut it against big-league hitting and at times isn't even cutting it against minor-league hitting.
“I think he has the opportunity to eventually pitch for us,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister told reporters, via the Dallas Morning News. “Because there is no track record on this injury, I think we’ve got to put him through the gamut of all the rehab.”
"Eventually" is running out, though. The Rangers must activate Harrison from his rehab assignment on July 3 because you get 30 days for a rehab assignment by rule. Harrison threw a bullpen session on Sunday for Banister and pitching coach Mike Maddux and is set to make what will be his final rehab start on Wednesday for Round Rock.
After that, it's decision time.
At this point, you'd have to think Harrison will be given a shot, and it won't be in the bullpen given the understandable concern the Rangers have of Harrison not working on a customary starter's schedule with his unprecedented injury.
You just have to wonder who he'll replace in the rotation, or if the team will go with a six-man rotation for a bit to see how things go for Harrison while also getting some of their starters some needed rest. With Martin Perez seemingly following soon, that's when someone will have to be out of the rotation, and the leading candidates now appear to be Wandy Rodriguez and Chi Chi Gonzalez.