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Profar progressing on cautious program

Infielder confident he'll rebound after missing '14; Rangers expect him healthy for season

FRISCO, Texas -- Rangers infielder Jurickson Profar has a goal for Spring Training.

"Just to play in all the games," Profar said.

But the question is: Will the Rangers let him do that while still going through the latest rehabilitation program on his right shoulder?

"I don't think so," Profar said with his perpetual smile. "But whatever they want, I am ready."

The Rangers want Profar to be healthy. That's a wish they have for many players, but certainly Profar's situation was one of the most frustrating for Texas in 2014.

That's why Profar won't even come close to playing in every game this spring.

"Baby steps," general manager Jon Daniels said. "It will be up to the training staff when he is cleared for each [step]."

Right now, Profar is playing catch at 75 feet. The Rangers are hoping he'll be ready to swing the bat by the beginning of Spring Training three weeks from now.

"He's going to swing a bat," Daniels said. "He'll be getting at-bats before he plays shortstop in games. I'm not going to put a date on it at this point. The expectation would be that he'd be ready to break with a club [at the end of Spring Training] and go from there. That's our hope, even if it's not playing shortstop every single day and some DH time. We're just going to be cautious with him. He's healthy right now; we just want to keep him that way."

The Rangers are being so cautious with Profar that they are having him undergo an MRI every three weeks just to see how the shoulder is holding up. That may be a lesson learned from last season, when Profar was supposed to be their starting second baseman after Ian Kinsler was traded to the Tigers for Prince Fielder. Instead, Profar missed the entire season because of chronic shoulder issues.

Profar somehow hurt his shoulder last winter and showed up in Spring Training with what was announced as tendinitis in the right shoulder. The Rangers tried to be cautious, but by the end of camp, Profar had a torn muscle in the shoulder and was expected to be sidelined for 10-12 weeks.

Profar then reinjured the shoulder in May while playing in extended spring camp games in Arizona, and that pretty much finished him for the season.

"I was playing, but I wasn't feeling good," Profar said. "Then I woke up in the middle of the night, and the pain was there. Just terrible pain."

Profar had another setback in September, which erased any chance of playing winter ball and making up for lost time.

"Last year … at the beginning, it was tough," Profar said. "But after a couple of months, you just start working hard, hoping to get back and play this year. Every day I work hard to get back."

Profar and the Rangers are hoping that he has conquered his shoulder issues.

"It's healthy," Profar said. "All winter it has been healthy. It feels strong, no problems."

Profar's future is still shrouded in mystery. The best-case scenario appears to be that he is at full strength at the end of Spring Training and playing shortstop every day at Triple-A Round Rock. A job at the Major League level is highly unlikely. Texas has Elvis Andrus at shortstop and Rougned Odor at second base, with Adam Rosales on board as the likely utility infielder.

The Rangers are unlikely to subject Profar's shoulder to the stress of playing different positions on an irregular schedule. Rosales can do that, and veteran Ed Lucas is also in camp as a non-roster invitee.

If Profar can open the season playing every day at Round Rock, that would seem to constitute a major victory. An even bigger victory would be for Profar to play at the level that made him one of the top prospects in the game two years ago.

That would seem to be a huge unknown, but not to Profar. He just keeps smiling and remains as optimistic as ever that he is going to be as good as he has ever been.

"Just watch the way I play," Profar said. "You're going to see."

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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