ARLINGTON — The Rangers’ need for starting pitching depth has become more apparent. Max Scherzer underwent surgery on his back for a herniated disc on Thursday, according to general manager Chris Young.
Scherzer tried several “conservative pain management treatments,” but the pain never went away, Young said. Ultimately, it was decided that surgery was the best course of action. Young did not provide a specific timetable, but noted that the surgery would delay Scherzer’s start of the season to at least June or July.
The 39-year-old ace was traded by the Mets to the Rangers at last season’s trade deadline for Luisangel Acuña. He started eight games for Texas down the stretch, going 4-2 with a 3.20 ERA.
Scherzer left Game 3 of the World Series with back spasms after three scoreless frames. At the time he said he was “pretty closed off.” He was eventually removed from the World Series roster before Game 5, which decided the series.
“After returning home for the off-season in Florida, my back discomfort continued to worsen,” Scherzer said in a statement. “During this time I received the diagnosis of a herniated disc. After numerous conservative treatments and consultation with multiple specialists, I made the decision to undergo the recommended surgery.” With it. Having this procedure done now will give me the best chance of playing as much as possible for Rangers in 2024. I look forward to starting my rehab work and getting back on the mound next summer.”
Scherzer has experience with back injuries. He was sidelined for two weeks during the middle of the 2019 season with a back ailment and then was scratched from the start of Game 5 in that year’s World Series with the Nationals due to neck and back spasms. He returned to start Game 7.
Scherzer missed the final six weeks of the 2023 regular season with a muscle strain in his right shoulder, but was able to pitch in three postseason games during the Rangers’ run to their first World Series title in franchise history.
Young said he doesn’t think the shoulder injury and back injury are related.
“I’ll tell you this. Max, in my experience, has a very high threshold for pain, and he knows his body really well,” Young said. “When he feels something, he’s very open and honest about how he feels. I think it’s been helpful for us in terms of managing these things,
The Rangers’ Opening Day rotation now lines up with Nathan Eovaldi, John Gray, Dane Dunning, Andrew Heaney, and Cody Bradford. Ace Jacob deGrom and newly signed Tyler Mahle from Tommy John are both expected to return around the same time as Scherzer.
The Rangers also have minor league depth with Owen White (No. 8, per MLB Pipeline), Cole Wynn (No. 28) and Zach Kent (NR) all on the 40-man roster. But White is the only one with significant league experience having made two appearances last season.
Young said Scherzer’s injury doesn’t necessarily impact how active the Rangers can be in terms of landing a starting spot.
“We were hoping Max Scherzer would be healthy at the start of the season, of course,” Young said. “However, we also realized that we were going to need depth at pitching. I’m not sure it changes much in terms of building that depth. It wears us down a little bit in the front half of the season….Again, pitching will remain the focus and we will continue to look for any way to improve Our club.
When asked if the club was looking to acquire at least one key player, Young said: “We certainly wouldn’t rule out that possibility.”
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