Wednesday’s news a tough one for Rangers to swallow

With the loss of Matt Harrison and Martin Perez, who's up next for the Rangers' pitching rotation?

Kevin Jairaj/Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

So many Texas Rangers fans have a tough time thinking about Oct. 27, 2011, without wincing in pain.

That, of course, was the night of Game 6 of the World Series. There’s no need to go into details because it’s still too fresh and painful for some fans of the Rangers to talk about.

That infamous day may now have some company in May 14, 2014, as far low moments on the baseball field for the Rangers.

Wednesday didn’t cost the Rangers a World Series but the exact impact of the losses might not be known for years.

Sure Texas general manager Jon Daniels tried to stay positive when talking to beat writers on a conference call about the injuries to Martin Perez and Matt Harrison.

He hasn’t written off either on pitching again in 2014, but that was the optimism talking. The reality figures to be different.

There’s no way to stay positive when you look at what kind of effect losing two parts of what was supposed to be the cornerstone of your rotation will have on your club. Two members who were locked up long term along with Derek Holland and Yu Darvish.

When the possibility of losing a starter to Tommy John surgery is the good news, you know it’s a bad day.

That’s the case for Perez. The Rangers are exploring rehab options with Perez, who was the team’s player of the month in April when he dazzled with a pair of shutouts. Now he’s dealing with a partial tear of his UCL.

If he opts for Tommy John surgery, Perez will likely be done until some point of the 2015 season. And while he’s still young and under contract through 2017 with the club holding options through the 2020 season, there’s no certainly that he’ll be the same pitcher post surgery.

There are plenty of big leaguers who have come all the way back from TJ surgery. But then there’s also pitchers like Neftali Feliz, who is nearly two years removed from his surgery and isn’t anywhere close to the pitcher he was before he had surgery and is currently in Triple A.

But at least there’s a near certainty he’ll pitch again. That’s not the case for Harrison, who could be headed for a third back surgery. This one – which is basically spinal fusion – makes his duo of herniated disk surgeries look pretty basic.

Harrison might not opt for that route and try to pitch through the injury, but if he’s going to pitch like he did Tuesday there’s really no point. But that may be his only real option as Daniels admitted his chances of coming back after the surgery aren’t as good as a player who has had traditional surgeries. And remember, this would be back surgery No. 3 for Harrison in a little more than a year.

Fans have to face the prospect there’s a chance that for the $55 million the Rangers gave Harrison before the 2013 season they’re going to get one victory. That doesn’t make it a bad deal though, at least at the time. Harrison was coming off an 18-win season as a 26-year-old. That’s the risk the Rangers were willing to take, same as the one they took on Perez before this season and Derek Holland a few years ago.

So does May 14 move the Rangers into panic mode or sell mode? Not according to general manager Jon Daniels.

"We just have to see how we weather the storm," he said. "I don’t think you change your expectations until you see how the team handles it. Teams deal with injuries all the time."

But they don’t lose 40 percent of their rotation for what will likely be the season on one day.

There’s no reason to panic yet either. The Rangers have to see how things play out. Maybe Holland, who throws a simulated game Thursday in Arizona, returns from his microfracture surgery next month. Maybe Nick Tepesch has a breakout season like Perez did or Harrison did before they got their big contracts.

Maybe Nick Martinez settles into the rotation. Maybe Colby Lewis makes it all the way back from his hip surgery. Maybe Robbie Ross will recover from his rocky start. Maybe Tanner Scheppers will get another crack at the rotation. Maybe Joe Saunders comes back. Maybe someone like Luke Jackson gets a chance.

So many maybes are now in play because of what happened on May 14.

Kind of like what happened on Oct. 27, 2011.