Since signing a big six-year, $57.95 million deal following the 2012 season, Texas Rangers lefty Matt Harrison has made exactly six starts, in two years.
In the meantime he's undergone multiple back surgeries including his most recent one — a spinal fusion procedure in the lower lumbar area, where all the power of a pitcher comes from.
It's an unprecedented surgery for a pitcher to come back from, and when Harrison takes the mound on Wednesday night in Arlington, he'll be the first pitcher to ever pitch after such a procedure. Regardless of what happens in the game, it's going to be a special night at the park and one Harrison will remember forever.
“We’re about to see a guy who is getting ready to come back from something that maybe nobody ever has before,” manager Jeff Banister told reporters. “I just want to see him compete to the highest level that he is capable.”
Harrison made six rehab starts over a 30-day rehab assignment — the maximum amount of a time a player can spend in the minors on a rehab assignment. His numbers weren't too encouraging, as his ERA was north of 6.00 over 34 2/3 innings of work. The encouraging part? He threw more than 100 pitches in each of his last three starts and has shown that, physically, he appears to be OK.
His velocity has been all over the place, and it remains to be seen what he'll bring to the mound on Wednesday, but what is not in doubt is the fact that Harrison should get a really healthy ovation from the home crowd on Wednesday because he's fought back from something that thought to be impossible to fight back from.