The Texas Rangers bad news just keeps on coming. Right-hander Jose Leclerc has opted to have Tommy John surgery to repair damage in his right arm. The announcement came on Monday afternoon. This comes as a blow to the Rangers, who were hopeful that Leclerc would have a bounce back season in 2021. In 2020, he pitched in two games and posted an ERA of 4.50. His record was 0-0 over that two game stretch.
The Rangers Next Move
Even with Leclerc in the fold, the debate on who would be the Rangers’ next closer was anything, but settled. Utilizing a bullpen that won’t include him in 2021 wasn’t what manager Chris Woodward had in mind. However, baseball is a game of adjustments. One possibility is that the Rangers will use right-hander Matt Bush in the role. Woodward may feel the need to ease him into this challenge as Bush has not pitched at the Major League level since 2018. Fellow right-hander Ian Kennedy is another arm that Woodward could turn to. Bush and Kennedy will most likely share the role, as both of them have experience closing games in their careers.
No Set Timetable
As for Leclerc, he will need to take things slow. This isn’t the outcome that he pictured when he first felt soreness in his right arm on March 22nd, just four days after he last pitched in a spring ball game against the Cincinnati Reds. The Rangers went on to win that game by a final score of 12-9. Little did they know that they would lose a vital key to their bullpen in said victory. Even though this procedure was Leclerc’s decision, there’s no doubt that he’s disappointed. The important thing for him now is not to rush things. Tommy John surgery requires rest and time. Leclerc will not see a Major League mound until at least 2022, possibly longer. If he follows the advice of the team and his doctors, then he will do well in his recovery.
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Manager Mentioned: Chris Woodward.