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Harrison leaves Rangers to have back examined

HOUSTON -- The Rangers are sending pitcher Matt Harrison back to Dallas on Wednesday to be examined by Dr. Drew Dossett after he left Tuesday night's 8-0 loss to the Astros with stiffness in his lower back. There is a strong possibility he could end up on the disabled list.

The Rangers won't know the extent of this problem until after Wednesday's examination, but there is serious concern after what Harrison has been through with his back over the past 14 months.

"It's frustrating, to begin with," Harrison said. "I think of what happened last year and all I went through to get back. I don't want to go through that again. I guess we'll find out tomorrow and see what he says. I'd like not to have that issue again. I'm praying I don't have to go through it again."

Harrison was making his fourth start since coming off the disabled list. An 18-game winner for the Rangers in 2012, he made just two starts last year before suffering a herniated disc in his lower back that required two surgeries to correct.

This game started with the roof open and the temperature at 66 degrees with a breeze, unusually cool for Houston in mid-May. But Harrison said that wasn't the problem.

"I've pitched in all kinds of weather during my rehab coming back," Harrison said. "I don't think that was the problem."

Harrison said he warmed up fine and got through the first inning without any back issues despite two walks. He said he started feeling stiff when he warmed up for the second inning.

"It just didn't feel right," said Harrison, whose velocity on his fastball dropped to 84 mph during the inning. At his best, Harrison can hit 94.

Harrison gave up a single to Chris Carter and a two-run home run to L.J. Hoes to start the second. He retired the next two hitters, but Jose Altuve doubled, George Springer walked and Dexter Fowler grounded a run-scoring single up the middle. It was at that point manager Ron Washington, pitching coach Mike Maddux and trainer Kevin Harmon went to the mound.

"He just didn't look right," Washington said. "I told Mike, 'He doesn't look right. Let's go out and see.' He just didn't look right. There were a couple of pitches that he bent over and got through, but a lot more where he was standing up. So we decided to go out and check. He said his back was stiff and I took the ball away from him."

He was healthy at the beginning of Spring Training but had some stiffness early in camp that put him 2-3 weeks behind and forced him to start the season on the DL. The Rangers played it cautiously in Spring Training when Harrison dealt with stiffness, and it's likely they will do so again.

He is guaranteed to miss at least one start but there is a high probability that he is looking at going on the disabled list.

"You're always concerned. ... We'll know more tomorrow," Washington said.

The Rangers already have Tanner Scheppers on the DL with inflammation in his right elbow and could put Martin Perez there as well on Wednesday. Perez is also dealing with elbow discomfort.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger.
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