ARLINGTON, Texas — Texas Rangers left-hander Matt Harrison had a setback in his recovery from surgery on a herniated disk in his lower back, needing a second operation in nine days Wednesday.
General manager Jon Daniels said Harrison, the Rangers opening-day starter this season, had an MRI on Wednesday after feeling some pain in his leg the previous day. He then had surgery to repair another herniation in the same disk and was feeling great afterward.
“Up to that point basically he had no discomfort in his leg,” Daniels said. “Similar to last time, he came out of it with flying colors, feels great now. Obviously he felt great last time for eight days. ... I don’ think it’s that uncommon, but obviously we would have preferred he didn’t have to have it cleaned up.”
Daniels said Harrison had been doing about an hour of rehabilitation each day, which the general manager termed “pretty minimal activity,” and doing about a half-hour of walking. Harrison was “just around his house” when he started feeling pain in his leg.
The Rangers don’t expect Harrison back for about three months, though Daniels said he wasn’t completely sure how the second operation would alter the timeline for the pitcher’s return.
“Time will tell, but the surgery went well and our expectation is the same as it was last time,” Daniels said. “We were looking at give-or-take three months beforehand, so we’re still operating under that same timeframe as of today. I don’t really know how to quantify how that means on have it adjusted.”
Harrison, in the first season of a $55 million, five-year contract after being an 18-game winner and an All-Star last season, never had any back problems before this spring. He first felt something wrong while running, but he kept pushing through, and symptoms got worse.
Despite stiffness in his back causing numbness and weakness in his left leg, Harrison made his first two starts. He lost both, giving up a pair of two-run homers in the first inning of the second one, and had an 8.44 ERA before going on the disabled list after that last start April 7. He had his initial surgery April 23.
Daniels said he is optimistic that Harrison will return this season. So is the pitcher.
“I know Matt, that’s his expectation. I talked to him ... and that certainly is his expectation,” Daniels said. “But we’ve just got to get him healthy.”
Once the back’s healthy and start ramping up I think we’ll have a better idea of a timetable at that point.”
Daniels had update on top prospect third baseman Mike Olt, who hasn’t played at Triple-A Round Rock for a week since saying he was having some vision problems. Olt, who made his major league debut last season, was in the Arlington area visiting doctors Tuesday. Olt is hitting only .139 this season, and his struggles could be related to the unspecified issues with his eyesight.