Rangers lose reliever Leclerc to TJ surgery

March 29th, 2021

Right-handed reliever will undergo Tommy John surgery, Rangers general manager Chris Young announced on Monday.

Leclerc experienced soreness and discomfort on March 22, four days after his most recent Cactus League outing, and visited Dr. Keith Meister in the Dallas-Fort Worth area the next day.

“He decided it is the best course of action for him,” Young said of Leclerc. “We certainly support that decision and are disappointed to lose José. We hate that he's going through this injury. It's a big loss for our club. But nonetheless, we look forward to getting José healthy, and then hopefully back some point next year.”

The Rangers' plan was to use Leclerc as a high-leverage option at the back end of their bullpen. The 27-year-old tallied 26 saves from 2018-19 and broke out in '18, posting a 1.56 ERA across 57 2/3 innings.

Leclerc made only two appearances last season due to a torn muscle in his right shoulder.

Jonathan Hernández, who was the Rangers' closer in 2020, is out indefinitely with a UCL injury. The two losses bring significant question marks to the back end of the Rangers' bullpen, especially in high-leverage situations.

Matt Bush and Ian Kennedy were confirmed to have made the team and will likely provide some stability in the absences of Leclerc and Hernández. Bush has impressed this spring, notching seven strikeouts over 4 2/3 innings while allowing three runs. Kennedy also has seven strikeouts through 5 2/3 innings this spring.

Young said the club signed Kennedy initially to be part of the closer competition. The right-hander recorded 30 saves for Kansas City in 2019 in that role.

Other injury updates

Young also provided injury updates for players remaining in Arizona.

• Pitcher Joely Rodríguez threw live batting practice and continues to progress well from a sprained ankle early in Spring Training. The targeted date for a return looks to be about two weeks into the season.

• Hernández will have a four-week follow-up MRI from his UCL injury. The club will further evaluate him and determine the next steps from there.

• Josh Jung, the Rangers' No. 1 prospect per MLB Pipeline, is recovering from surgery after a stress fracture in his left foot. He is back in Arizona with the rehab staff. The surgery went well.

• Willie Calhoun had nine at-bats in a simulated game on Sunday. He will stay in Arizona and hopefully get more DH reps in live games.

• Khris Davis is doing very light activity following a Grade 2 left quad strain, but he has not yet built up to doing baseball activities.

No. 2 prospect Sam Huff is progressing well following a hamstring injury and is entering the final phases of his rehab. He will undergo one more MRI before returning to full activity, but things are trending in the right direction for the catcher.