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Holland visits FanFest, discusses freak injury

Pitcher reiterates he hurt knee tripping over dog; no timetable for throwing

ARLINGTON -- The morning after Derek Holland received his Jim Sundberg Community Achievement Award at the Rangers Awards Dinner, he showed up at the Ballpark at Arlington to sign autographs at FanFest.

"I don't want to be out in public but it's better than sitting at the house," said Holland, who is still on crutches since undergoing microfracture surgery Jan. 10 to repair torn cartilage in his left knee. "I'm going crazy sitting at home on the couch playing Xbox."

Holland met with the media in person Saturday for the first time since the surgery and directly addressed a couple of issues relating to the injury.

One is how it happened. Holland repeated the story that he injured the knee falling over his dog -- a 70-pound boxer -- on the wooden stairs at his home. Holland said he did not hurt the knee playing hockey.

"I fell over my dog," Holland said. "It's not a joke. I was just playing around with my dog and things went too far. I was running up the stairs, he came up behind me and clipped me. I fell perfectly and my knee hit the edge of a stair. I tried to get up and I knew something was wrong."

Holland plays in a recreational hockey league and had a game the night before in Frisco. But he said that had nothing to do with the injury.

"I played but that's not what caused the injury," Holland said. "I'm aware of what people think, but if people don't believe it, there is nothing I can say. It's a non-contact league. It's a beer league, a recreational league. It's like flag football on ice."

The Rangers originally announced Holland had undergone surgery to repair torn cartilage in the knee. A few days later it came out that Holland had undergone microfracture surgery, which seemed a more serious issue. Former Rangers pitcher Scott Feldman underwent microfracture surgery on his right knee in early November 2010 and did not pitch in a Major League game until July 22, 2011.

Holland said he has been told that his injury is not as serious. Feldman's injury was more in the femur bone, a weight-bearing area below the knee. Holland's injury was behind the kneecap. The microfracture surgery was done on the kneecap to stimulate blow flow and help the cartilage heal quicker.

"I know mine is going to be a shorter and quicker process than his was," Holland said.

Holland is still expected to miss significant time at the start of the season. He is able to bend the knee and in one week is hoping to start riding an exercise bicycle. But he is still expected to be on crutches until Feb. 20. He is able to do upper-body work but there is no telling when he will be able to start throwing again.

"I'm trying to do as much as possible but the main thing is I have to be patient," Holland said.

The Rangers expected Holland to be their No. 2 starter behind Yu Darvish after going 10-9 with a 3.42 ERA in 33 starts last season. He is entering the third year of a five-year, $28.5 million contract signed on March 20, 2012.

"I was working out and I felt I was as strong as I have ever been," Holland said. "To have it all crash down over something so dumb, it's frustrating."

With three weeks to go until the start of Spring Training, the Rangers are still looking for starting pitching depth and expect the market to pick up now that Masahiro Tanaka has signed with the Yankees. The Brewers are close to a four-year contract with free-agent pitcher Matt Garza. The Rangers aren't expecting to sign a front-line starter but are looking for somebody to compete against Nick Tepesch, Robbie Ross and other internal candidates for the fifth spot in the rotation.

"Obviously it's sad what happened to Holland but we're happy that it wasn't that serious," third baseman Adrian Beltre said. "It's going to be a couple months, join us before the second half or right after, but we have to find some help and try to find a way until he gets back. We can't sit here and start crying about it, find out as a team how to stay balanced until he gets back."

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

Texas Rangers, Derek Holland