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Kluber 'on track' to get started with Rangers

@Sullivan_Ranger
January 27, 2020

ARLINGTON -- Rangers pitcher Corey Kluber was bombarded with questions during his visit to Texas Live! and Globe Life Field on Saturday, both by the media and the fans. Only one question really mattered. How do you feel physically? "I feel really good," Kluber said. "I'm right on track with

ARLINGTON -- Rangers pitcher Corey Kluber was bombarded with questions during his visit to Texas Live! and Globe Life Field on Saturday, both by the media and the fans.

Only one question really mattered.

How do you feel physically?

"I feel really good," Kluber said. "I'm right on track with where I normally like to be at this point in the offseason. Everything that happened last summer with my arm and my oblique is the past. It's not anything I'm concerned with right now."

Obviously, that’s the most important question for every pitcher at any time of the year.

But it’s truly what most Rangers fans are wondering with just two over two weeks to go before pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training. It has also been just over a month since the Rangers acquired Kluber from the Indians for outfielder Delino DeShields and pitcher Emmanuel Clase.

The Rangers made the trade feeling confident that Kluber will be fully recovered from the injuries that limited him to just seven starts last season. But it never hurts to be polite and inquire about someone’s health.

“I’ve been [pitching] off a mound for a while now, which is right in line where I’d normally be,” Kluber said.

Normal for Kluber is being one of the top pitchers in the American League. From 2014-18, he made 160 starts for the Indians and was 83-45 with a 2.85 ERA. Kluber had a 1.02 WHIP and struck out 10.13 batters per nine innings.

He also won the AL Cy Young Award in 2014 and '17.

Kluber's 2019 season ended on May 1, when he suffered a fractured right forearm after getting hit by a line drive from Miami’s Brian Anderson. He was close to returning in August when he was shut down by a strained left oblique muscle.

“I have had time to process being part of a new organization,” Kluber said. “I’m excited about it. I am looking forward to the new season. It has been a long time for me personally since I have been able to get on the field.”

The injuries were disappointing, but Kluber also wasn’t pitching well prior to suffering the fractured arm. He was 2-3 with a 5.80 ERA in seven starts and opponents were hitting .297 off him.

“The time off last year was unfortunate but I’ve kind of made myself look at it as it is what it is,” Kluber said. “Hopefully it will be a good thing moving forward. It gave me time to regroup physically, address some issues that I had. My delivery had gotten out of whack. I’m in a good spot now. It was unfortunate that happened but hopefully it was a blessing.”

If Kluber is at full strength and his delivery is back in alignment, that’s all the Rangers want. From there, they’ll be more than willing to count on the talent and work ethic to carry him the rest of the way. They look forward to having three pitchers at the top of their rotation in Kluber, Mike Minor and Lance Lynn that could rival any trio in the American League. Veteran right-handers Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles have a chance to make it a complete rotation.

“It’s just having competitive games,” Minor said. “Every night we can have a guy up there competing and giving us competitive innings and going deep into ballgames and maybe taking some [burden] off the bullpen. If we can go six, seven, eight every night, we have a chance to win every night.”

Kluber has reason to feel excited about the upcoming season. He pitched locally at Coppell High School and grew up watching the Rangers play. He knows how hot it gets in Texas during the summer and has seen the new climate-controlled ballpark getting ready to open in March.

“It will be a lot of fun,” Kluber said. “I came out to the [old] ballpark numerous times when I was a kid. Playing right next door will be pretty cool.”

His excitement, though, goes beyond a retractable roof and an air-conditioning unit.

“I think that from everything I’ve gathered, the organization is trying to win,” Kluber said. “These days that’s not always the case in baseball. As a player, that’s what you want first and foremost -- be part of a team that is trying to win. That’s exciting. Not having to wonder, 'What are we trying to do here?' Being on a team that’s going to try and win every day, try to make postseason and win the World Series, that’s exciting.”

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.