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Volquez to IL, hopes for best but ponders retiring

Veteran's elbow to be examined; Rangers call up lefty Bird
@Sullivan_Ranger
April 5, 2019

ANAHEIM -- Rangers pitcher Edinson Vólquez said he didn’t feel right going into his start Thursday against the Angels. He was willing to take the ball, but that might not have been the best move. Vólquez was placed on the 10-day injured list Friday with a sprained right elbow, and

ANAHEIM -- Rangers pitcher Edinson Vólquez said he didn’t feel right going into his start Thursday against the Angels. He was willing to take the ball, but that might not have been the best move.

Vólquez was placed on the 10-day injured list Friday with a sprained right elbow, and the Rangers brace for worse news concerning a veteran pitcher who was trying to come back from his second Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery.

“Obviously, when a guy has had Tommy John twice and you mention an elbow sprain, you are concerned,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “Hope for the best. I’d feel terrible if something is wrong. Hopefully, it’s not long term. He’s such a big part of that clubhouse.”

Vólquez, 35, is being sent to Arlington to be examined by Dr. Keith Meister. He said he will retire if he needs another Tommy John surgery.

“Yeah, I will,” Vólquez said. “For sure. If something bad happens I won't do it again, because at my age it’s not good enough to have another one. I will go home to see my daughter grow. I think I got everything I need from baseball.”

Left-hander Kyle Bird was called up on Thursday to replace Vólquez on the roster.

Vólquez said everything has been going well in his rehabilitation program right up until what happened Thursday night.

“It's hard -- all the work I've been doing since last year, and it doesn't feel right, right now,” Vólquez said. “It's tough. It's my forearm. It's tight here a little bit. I've got to wait to see Meister. I can't put my head down. I'm going to keep my head up. I've put in a lot of work to be where I am right now.”

Vólquez, in his second start of the season, made it through 3 2/3 innings and 83 pitches against the Angels on Thursday. He gave up four hits and four walks with three strikeouts.

“You could tell something wasn’t right -- his velocity was down,” Woodward said. “He had really erratic fastball command. He didn’t know where it was going.”

Woodward said there was no discussion before the game of not letting Vólquez pitch at all. Vólquez said he wanted to pitch and was ready to go.

“He has talked about it before,” Woodward said. “People coming off Tommy John, they always complain of similar symptoms, but you have to get through it. If I felt we were risking injury, I would have never sent him out there.”

Vólquez is one of three Rangers starters coming back from Tommy John surgery. Drew Smyly and Shelby Miller are the other two. Vólquez’s situation may raise a red flag, but, so far, the other two have had no issues. Smyly will pitch on Saturday against the Angels, and Miller is scheduled for Sunday.

“Do you be mindful of the other guys who previously had Tommy John?” Woodward said. “Obviously. But you still have to let them pitch; you still have to let them go out and compete.”

Adrian Sampson is expected to replace Vólquez in the rotation but may not be needed until next weekend in Arlington because the Rangers are off on Monday and Thursday.

The plan now is for Mike Minor and Lance Lynn to pitch Tuesday and Wednesday against the D-backs in Arizona. Smyly will start April 12 against the Athletics and then Sampson possibly could be inserted on April 13.

Sampson is currently being used as the Rangers’ long reliever. He allowed one run over six innings in his only appearance, against the Astros on Monday.

Vólquez’s injury is another hit to the Rangers’ pitching depth. They lost Luke Farrell (broken jaw) and Yohander Méndez (sprained elbow) in Spring Training, and Jason Hammel unexpectedly retired. Right-hander Ariel Jurado and left-hander Taylor Hearn are the next line of depth at Triple-A. Top prospects Joe Palumbo, Brock Burke and Jonathan Hernandez are at Double A Frisco.

The Rangers were hoping that group would get extended development time in the Minor Leagues this season, but that plan could get sorely tested if the Rangers’ big league staff takes any more hits.

“We’ve got some guys,” Woodward said. “We have some younger guys that if something happens, we would have to rely on them earlier than we want. But, hey, you know what, if we have to go that route, we will.”

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.