Costly comebacker could have Rangers scrambling

Martin Perez gets checked out by a trainer after being hit by a line drive in Sunday's game vs. Seattle. (photo credit to Jake Roth/USA TODAY Sports)

Martin Perez gets checked out by a trainer after being hit by a line drive in Sunday’s game vs. Seattle. (photo credit to Jake Roth/USA TODAY Sports)

First there was “The Case of the Poorly Timed Tattoo” and now there’s a much more serious Rangers injury to be concerned about.  In the sixth inning of yesterday’s 7-6 loss to the Mariners, former RoughRiders pitcher Martin Perez was struck just above the left wrist by a Brad Miller line drive and after the game it was revealed that he suffered a fracture of the left ulna bone.  It will be at least four weeks until he can begin a throwing program and most indications are that he will be on the shelf until May at the earliest.

What makes this so unfortunate is that Perez was the clear leader in the clubhouse for the fifth spot in Texas’ rotation, a position that failed to produce any wins down the home stretch of the 2012 season.  The former RoughRider was having a strong spring training while the other competitors were either: a) struggling; b) injured; or c) inexperienced.  Perez, the Rangers’ top minor league pitcher who has been on prospect radars everywhere for the last few years, was looking to make that next step to become a reliable major league starter.  That still may end up happening, but this is a big blow in the short term for the club.

The calls for veteran free agent pitcher Kyle Lohse were already out there to some degree and they’ve only gotten even louder since Sunday afternoon.  The Rangers will have to decide how big of a setback this is and if they want to put themselves into a position they were in last year with Roy Oswalt.  Texas was practically forced to sign Oswalt after some injuries to their pitching staff, but had to stash the former all-star in the bullpen because of ineffectiveness which didn’t sit well with ol’ Roy.

It’s not completely an apples-to-apples comparison, as there would be some differences and some similarities if they were to sign Lohse.  The former Cardinals righty is 34, the same age as Oswalt when he signed with Texas a few months into the 2012 season.  He has been better than Oswalt in recent years (including a stellar season last year) but has a career track record of mediocrity; he’s almost the opposite of Oswalt’s in that sense.  The primary reason Lohse has not signed yet is because he and agent Scott Boras likely want more money and more years than the market has been interested in giving him (as well as the forfeiture of a first round draft pick and the signing bonus pool money that goes along with it), whereas Oswalt simply wasn’t interested in pitching a full season, Roger Clemens-style.

What makes this a tricky situation is the expected return of Colby Lewis as soon as May, when Perez would likely be back.  The question the Rangers need to answer is whether they feel they can last the first six weeks of the season with a big question mark in that fifth rotation spot (whether it is Robbie Ross, Justin Grimm, Kyle McClellan, Nick Tepesch, etc.) or if they need to feel a little more certain with a veteran who finished seventh in the Cy Young voting last year.  In a very competitive A.L. West, it’s a decision that will likely have big consequences.

Now, on to today’s links, with the two most important off-the-field stories leading off:

In trying to keep Jon Daniels in town, Rangers must be careful not to squeeze out Nolan Ryan – If you missed it, the Rangers announced the promotion of Jon Daniels to president/GM on late Friday afternoon, normally a release time for when businesses want to sweep under the rug to avoid maximum attention.  (I’m not trying to say that that’s what the Rangers were trying to do in this case, just pointing out a common practice.)  Nolan Ryan, now no longer team president, will continue as CEO and Daniels will report to him.  Kevin Sherrington explains the tight-rope walk that Rangers ownership must embark upon to satisfy all wings of their baseball operation and maintain success both on and off the field.  A good read.

Nolan Ryan could leave Rangers by the end of spring training, sources sayRandy Galloway has sources who say that Nolan Ryan’s departure from the Rangers is imminent, based on changing roles over who gets final say baseball-wise.  Another interesting read on a subject that threatens to take over the narrative of the next month. (note: for this story you need a subscription, but you can easily read the text around the “sign in” pop-up.

Perez injury leaves Texas Rangers’ rotation with questions that Kyle Lohse could answer (subscription required)Gerry Fraley gives us his thoughts on the rotation quandary created by Perez’ injury.

Justin Grimm all but eliminates himself from Texas Rangers rotation after another ugly outing - Fraley reports on Grimm’s latest rough big league appearance.

Fraley on Joe Nathan’s new pitch and Julio Borbon getting to the end of the line

Tough day for 5th-spot contendersRon Matejko of ESPNDallas.com notes that it was a rough Sunday for two of the Rangers’ top rotation candidates.

Martin Perez out at least two months with broken forearmJeff Wilson’s report on the injury of the day.

Tepesch making early impressionDrew Davison’s notes column brings up Tepesch as a possibility for the fifth spot as well as David Murphy’s thoughts on PED penalties.

Murphy eager to step into everyday roleAnthony Andro writes that Murphy expects big things now that he knows his role as an everyday player going into a season.  A big year would certainly help his bottom line come the hot stove season, as he is a free agent after 2013.

Nathan makes scoreless debut in Rangers’ lossLost in all of the Martin Perez/Nolan Ryan news was that Joe Nathan looked pretty good in his first spring outing.

Grimm remains determined for Opening Day roleDespite poor results this spring, William Boor of MLB.com writes that Justin Grimm is confident he can turn things around and be a contributor to the big league club.

Nathan, E. Beltre primed for spring actionBoor’s notebook has more on the return of Nathan and Engel Beltre, who is back from a left shoulder injury.

- Alex

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