Rangers RHP Scheppers headed to DL with elbow issue

Scheppers was Texas' opening day starter because Yu Darvish had a neck strain, and is 0-1 with a 9.82 ERA.

Tim Heitman/Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

ARLINGTON, Texas — Tanner Scheppers felt discomfort in his pitching elbow long before the Texas Rangers went to spring training with a plan to turn the right-hander into a starter.

Scheppers finally said something after the fourth start of his big league career, and now he’s headed to the disabled list with elbow inflammation.

Texas made the move Friday, a day after Scheppers gave up six runs in the shortest of his starts — 2 1-3 innings in an 8-6 win over Seattle.

General manager Jon Daniels said an MRI showed inflammation in the muscle and no structural damage to the ligament. Scheppers will take 10 days off, then start a throwing program.

Scheppers said the elbow didn’t feel right as far back as the end of last season, when he led the team with 76 appearances in his second season in the bullpen.

"It’s something that hasn’t gotten better the way that we would like," said Scheppers, who is 0-1 with a 9.82 ERA. "Right now we just want to step back, get healthy, because there’s no point in pushing through something like this."

Texas replaced Scheppers by selecting the contract of left-hander Aaron Poreda from Triple-A Round Rock. The Rangers made room for Poreda on the 40-man roster by designating infielder Andy Parrino for assignment.

Scheppers was Texas’ opening-day starter because Yu Darvish had a neck strain. Scheppers gave up six runs in the second inning of that game against Philadelphia and surrendered six in the third inning against the Mariners on Thursday.

Daniels said Scheppers was examined after reporting soreness during spring training. He was cleared at the time, but now Daniels wonders how healthy he was.

"I think it might be connected, that he wasn’t feeling 100 percent, probably wasn’t performing at 100 percent because of it," Daniels said.

Scheppers’ fastball has averaged 93.7 mph this year, according to fangraphs.com, down from 96.3 mph last year. While his velocity was better against the Mariners, six of the first seven hitters reached in the third. Robinson Cano and Corey Hart had back-to-back homers.

"My pitches aren’t doing what they normally are or what they should be doing," Scheppers said. "It’s something that could build up and you don’t get the results that you want."

Daniels said the Rangers had yet to discuss what Scheppers’ elbow issue will do to his role as a starter.

Left-handers Matt Harrison and Joe Saunders could be close to returning when Scheppers is eligible to come off the disabled list May 3. Scheppers was an effective setup man for closer Joe Nathan last year, going 6-2 with a save and a 1.88 ERA.

"We will talk about it," Daniels said. "But we haven’t made any decisions at this point."

Given a chance to start, Scheppers was one of the best Texas pitchers in spring training. Filling in for Darvish, he became the first major league to make his first career start on opening day since Fernando Valenzuela in 1981.

"I really don’t think it has anything to do with me starting pitching," Scheppers said. "It’s just I’m doing something that I haven’t done in a long time."