If the Texas Rangers get back into the A.L. West race, they will do it without Rangers pitcher Cole Hamels, at least for a couple of months.
The lefty is on the disabled list with a strained right oblique muscle suffered earlier this month.
“It takes a little time to get over the initial disappointment,” said Hamels. “It’s not fun. As much as being able to root your teammates on every four days, then it kind of gets to the five or six weeks, it’s a long, long time.”
Prior to a scheduled start in Houston against the division-leading Astros, Hamels began feeling pain in his oblique while warming up in the bullpen. Alex Claudio made the emergency start instead as Hamels returned to Arlington for further examination when the strain was discovered.
“It was painful when it happened and I think the case is when it does happen, you know what you did,” said Hamels. “It feels like a knife in your back.”
Hamels is a top-20 pitcher in baseball so the loss hurts. He was 2-0 with a 3.03 ERA in five starts prior to the injury. The Rangers will definitely need other starting pitchers to step up in his place until his return. It’s a great chance for Yu Darvish to take off and show his stuff as the ace of the staff, especially during a contract year.
The Rangers go into Tuesday night’s game at The Globe against the Philadelphia Phillies riding a six-game winning streak. During that time, Texas raised their overall record to 19-20 and sit third in the division, a percentage point behind the Los Angeles Angels for second place.
The good news is that despite being a game under .500, the Rangers are just two games out of the Wild Card race. On the flip side, they are eight games behind the Astros in the division. Granted, it’s only May and there’s still plenty of baseball left to be played.
What will help is having a healthy Hamels down the stretch once he’s able to return. As for the here and now, the focus is getting back on the field.
“The frustration and disappointment is over and now I’ve got to move forth and just try to get myself healthy and get back out there,” said Hamels. “I think like anything that kind of occurs that’s unexpected you just want to go out there and be 100 percent when I’m actually ready.”