The Texas Rangers put Tanner Scheppers on the disabled list with what they’re calling “elbow inflammation,” something Scheppers says he’s felt since the end of last season through spring training.
If the Rangers didn’t know he was feeling this prior to the season getting underway then the blame goes entirely on Scheppers for not disclosing the issue to manager Ron Washington, pitching coach Mike Maddux, or anyone on the medical staff or front office. If the Rangers already did know about his issue and they tried to make him pitch through it, what will the fall out be and how will fans react with the team ruining yet another reliever like they did with Neftali Feliz?
I know it’s easy to say “I told you so” about putting Scheppers into the rotation after he had been such a dominant reliever for this club, I think we all saw how poorly this was going to go after he made his very first start on Opening Day just a few short weeks ago. None of his starts have been great and after giving up a six-run inning to the Seattle Mariners on Thursday afternoon, a deficit the Rangers were able to overcome in an 8-6 win, there wasn’t a fan anywhere who knew how this was going to end for the right-hander.
However, none of those fans knew Scheppers’ next destination was going to be the disabled list.
Let me take you back to Neftali Feliz and the issue he had when he was put into the starting rotation from being the team’s closer just a season earlier. After putting up a 3-1 record in seven starts with a 3.16 ERA and holding opposing hitters to a .187 average against, Feliz was put on the disabled list on May 22nd and never returned. However, what made this such an interesting case was how long the Rangers waited before allowing Feliz to undergo Tommy John surgery. Nolan Ryan, then with the Rangers organization, was on ESPN Radio and was asked about Feliz’s situation, telling “Galloway and Company” that the doctors were “pleased with the condition of Feliz’s ligament.”
When general manager Jon Daniels was asked about it he said , “Dr. Keith Meister is one of the best and if he feels like rest and medication can help him, that’s encouraging to hear. You don’t like any of the guys to miss any amount of time but it beats the alternative.”
That ‘rest and medication’ didn’t help and Feliz would never return to the team that season. Could he have returned to the active roster had the surgery been done right away? We may never know the answer to that.
So Feliz gets five starts into the season before he starts feeling the discomfort, or at least that’s when he said he started feeling it, and Scheppers gets just four starts into the year, though admits he’s been feeling it prior to the season even beginning. The situations may be very different or they may be exactly the same.
It’ll be interesting to see how they handle his issue with the elbow and whether he’ll be shut down for a longer length of time than 15 days, especially since this pain has lingered since the end of last season, or if it’ll go away on its own with a few weeks of rest like the Rangers thought it would with Feliz just two years ago.
For me, this seems far too much like the Feliz situation all over again. If Scheppers does undergo surgery and is lost for the season, the question becomes “could it have been avoided?”