Leclerc to miss time with shoulder tear

July 31st, 2020

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers' pitching staff took another big hit on Thursday when closer was diagnosed with a torn teres major muscle in the back of the right shoulder. He will miss an “extended period of time,” general manager Jon Daniels said.

The injury is similar to the one sustained by Corey Kluber in last Sunday’s start against the Rockies but not as severe. Leclerc is being shut down from throwing for at least four weeks and will receive a platelet-rich plasma injection.

If Leclerc is able to resume throwing in four weeks, there is still a chance he could be ready at the end of the season. Right now, the Rangers must consider their options at closer. Veteran right-hander Nick Goody earned the save in Wednesday’s 7-4 win over the D-backs.

“You just can’t replace guys like with that kind of ability,” Daniels said. “José hadn’t thrown early like we believed he’s capable of, but we were counting on him to pitch high-leverage innings.”

The Rangers are placing Leclerc on the 45-day injured list and calling up right-hander Jimmy Herget from the alternate camp. Herget did not allow a run over 5 1/3 innings in intrasquad games during Summer Camp and was scoreless in five innings in Cactus League games in Spring Training.

“There are a couple other guys that we talked about, guys that got some consideration, but we just felt that Jimmy was throwing the ball really well,” Daniels said. “He has continued to do that. Doesn't seem to have any sort of fear out there. He's a guy that just really threw well in Arizona, threw well here last month and we felt like he was the right guy.”

Leclerc pitched in two games, saving the 1-0 win over the Rockies on Opening Day with a scoreless ninth and allowing one run in an inning of work last Sunday. His fastball averaged 94.5 mph, which was down from his average of 96.8 last season. Otherwise, he expressed only normal soreness after his last outing.

Leclerc felt the shoulder tighten up on him when he went to warm up on Wednesday afternoon to pitch the ninth inning. The Rangers shut him down and went with Goody instead.

The Rangers' two hardest throwers are right-handers Jonathan Hernández and Ian Gibaut. Both made the team off of impressive Summer Camps, but are still inexperienced. Veteran Edinson Vólquez is throwing at 94.7 mph with a plus changeup and 15 years of experience.

Goody is doesn’t throw as hard as the others, but has a swing-and-miss strikeout pitch. That’s why he averages 10.8 strikeouts per nine innings in his career.

Right-hander Rafael Montero was considered a closing option in Spring Training, but he's dealing with a strained right forearm. He is expected be sidelined for at least another week.

Daniels said manager Chris Woodward is still discussing all options with his coaching staff.

“I’m not entirely certain at this point if he will go with one person or go based on matchups and who is throwing well,” Daniels said.

Daniels said the Rangers have talked at length about having two critical pitchers come down with the same injury in the first week of the season.

“Typically, you get a rush of injuries early in Spring Training as games get started,” Daniels said. “I think you’re seeing something similar here just because guys played intrasqaud games, but didn’t really have that adrenaline in facing opponents. We had a pretty decent conversation about it this morning about what we can do.

“All 30 teams are in the same spot. We thought we were pretty diligent about staying on top of our guys leading up to this. It’s not like they just started throwing and went zero-to-sixty on July 1 when we got here. They had been throwing for a while. Looking around the league, there’s a ton of arm injuries early on. Regardless, we’ve got two key guys that are down. We need to take a closer look at that.”

The Rangers made one other roster move on Thursday. They are recalling first baseman Greg Bird from alternate camp and sending down Ronald Guzman. Todd Frazier remains the Rangers' starting first baseman. Guzman started one game for the Rangers and went 1-for-4 with two strikeouts.

“I just felt like in the moment in time that Greg's a little bit better at-bat and Ronald could use a little bit of a reset,” Daniels said. “His role on the team right now is more as a defensive replacement and thought Greg's been swinging the bat well in intrasquads and live BPs and wanted to give him the opportunity here.”