Fielder to have surgery on herniated disc in neck; second baseman re-injures shoulder
DETROIT -- Rangers first baseman Prince Fielder is expected to undergo surgery on Tuesday to repair a herniated disc in his neck and miss the rest of the season. Second baseman Jurickson Profar could also miss the rest of the season as the Rangers were hit with another double dose of bad injury news on Thursday.
Fielder, who was examined by Dr. Drew Dossett on Thursday, is seeking a second opinion but has told the Rangers that he wants to get the surgery done now. The recovery time is 3-4 months, there is a high rate of success and the Rangers are hopeful he will be at full strength in Spring Training. But he is likely done for this year.
The Rangers on Friday placed Fielder on the disabled list and recalled infielder Donnie Murphy from his injury rehab assignment and activated him for Friday's game in Detroit.
"We're looking forward to getting this guy healthy and seeing what he can do," general manager Jon Daniels said of Fielder. "But that's in 2015 and beyond. We're going to miss this guy."
Profar has been on the disabled list since the end of Spring Training with a torn muscle in his right shoulder. Now the Rangers have revealed that Profar has re-injured the shoulder and will have to go through the whole rehabilitation process from the beginning. Profar was supposed to be out 8-12 weeks, now he is looking at the same diagnosis or longer.
"We're going to take this one extremely conservatively and extremely slowly," Daniels said.
Rookies Rougned Odor and Luis Sardinas have been filling in for Profar at second base. Mitch Moreland will play first base in Fielder's absence but the Rangers will have trouble replacing his expected production with anybody from within the organization. Outfielder Brad Snyder is hitting .256 for Triple-A Round Rock and leads the Express with 12 home runs, 33 RBIs and a .525 slugging percentage. He will likely be the leading candidate to replace Fielder.
Kendrys Morales, a switch-hitter who plays mostly at designated hitter, remains unsigned and the Rangers will discuss that possibility. But his agent, Scott Boras, is looking for a multiyear deal and signing Morales would cost the Rangers the 30th overall pick in next month's First-Year Player Draft. Daniels said he will talk to manager Ron Washington about all the Rangers' options without Fielder.
The Rangers are expected to put Fielder on the disabled list Friday. He will be the club's 14th player on the disabled list.
"It's a challenge, but with every challenge comes opportunity," Daniels said. "Guys need to step up, and they have. You're just not going to replace certain guys. When you have such a critical mass of injuries, it becomes a secondary challenge just to field a talented club. But we still have talent, we have to stay positive, stay the course and let this team get going."
Fielder has been bothered by pain and stiffness in the neck for some time, but only told the Rangers last month. The problem probably started last season with the Tigers but the symptoms weren't this severe and the Rangers had no warning when they acquired Fielder for second baseman Ian Kinsler over the winter.
Fielder only told the Rangers about the problem last month. He was initially given oral medication but that did not fix the problem. He had an injection last Saturday that the Rangers hoped would be the solution. It was not.
Fielder originally reported some improvement over the weekend and was originally in Tuesday's lineup against the Mariners. But he felt significant weakness in his left side during batting practice and was given a strength test by the Rangers' medical staff. The results were not good and Fielder was examined again by Dossett on Thursday.
Fielder is hitting .247 with three home runs and 16 RBIs in 42 games and the Rangers are becoming more convinced this was the source of his problems.
"When you talk to him and see the medical staff test his strength … he has a real deficiency in his left side," Daniels said. "I don't have any doubt it's affected his play."
The 14 players on the disabled list are double the most for one team in the Major Leagues. The Nationals are next most with seven.
"I haven't ever been a part of anything like this … never across the board to this degree," Daniels said. "You try to plan all offseason to give yourself depth, we did a better job in some areas than in others. But there is a limit to how many premium innings you can replace and how many premium offensive players you can replace.
"We had expectations at the beginning of the season that if we had a healthy club, we expected to contend and win. We've lost some guys but these guys work hard, they believe in themselves and they get it done. They've got a lot of pride and I don't expect that to change."