Posted on April 12, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
The Texas Rangers just can’t seem to catch a break. In addition to starting the season 4-10, the club is riddled with injuries, and things are only getting worse. The next member of the team to join a crowded DL will be shortstop Elvis Andrus. The 29-year old shortstop suffered a broken elbow when he was hit by a pitch during Wednesday’s loss to the Angels. It’s perhaps the most significant of several injuries the Rangers have suffered early in the season.
Andrus was hit right in the elbow by a 97 mph fastball from Angels reliever Keynan Middleton. Initial x-rays confirmed a fracture of the elbow. On Thursday, the Rangers will place Andrus on the DL for the first time in his 10-year career. More importantly, Andrus will undergo more tests that will give the team a better idea of how much time he’ll miss. However, a lengthy absence appears likely.
“It’s unfortunate, it’s terrible, I don’t have a big enough vocabulary to tell you how I feel,” said Rangers manager Jeff Banister after Wednesday’s game. “But I have a big enough vocabulary to tell you this is a group of guys who won’t lay down, but will fight through this.”
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As mentioned, Andrus is just the latest Rangers player to join the DL. The Texas injured list already includes second baseman Rougned Odor and center fielder Delino DeShields, as well as pitchers Doug Fister and Tim Lincecum. With Andrus hurt, the Rangers will lose one of their most impactful players. Thus far, Andrus was hitting .327 with an OPS of .926.
“Listen, you don’t replace guys like this,” said Banister. “It’s such a huge part of the lineup and on the field defensively.”
The loss of Andrus will force the Rangers to reshuffle several pieces in their lineup. Jurickson Profar, who has been filling in for Odor at second base, will likely shift to shortstop. Unfortunately for the Rangers, the once promising Profar is hitting just .167 on the season. Isaiah-Kiner Falefa, who only recently made his big league debut, could become the primary second baseman.
Drew Robinson is another option at second base. But he’s currently filling the void for DeShields in center field. Moving him to second base would force the Rangers to rearrange their outfield, potentially forcing regular DH Shin-Soo Choo to play the field. Unfortunately, the Rangers are short on highly-regarded prospects who are waiting in the wings.
“We’ll figure out how to draw it up and go out and play,” says Banister. “You don’t replace guys like this. He is such a huge part of the lineup — defensively, leadership. In the interim, there is a toughness you have to have as a group, team and organization to maneuver through this. There is a mindset you have to have. That’s my job.”
With the Rangers already struggling, the loss of Andrus for a significant period of time could be an early-season knockout punch. Texas has lost four straight, dropping the club to last place in the AL West. The Rangers attempted to reload over the winter in hopes of competing for a playoff spot in 2018. But the team’s poor start and abundance of injuries could force them to start looking toward the future sooner rather than later.