Gonzalez has UCL tear, could miss 3 months

Hauschild struggles vs. Angels as Rangers' rotation battle narrows

Gonzalez has UCL tear, could miss 3 months

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Right-hander Chi Chi Gonzalez is out of the Rangers' rotation competition. Instead, he could be out for three months with a partial tear of the UCL in his right elbow.

Gonzalez, who had an MRI and was examined by Dr. Keith Meister on Friday, will receive a stem-cell injection Monday and be shut down from throwing for six weeks. He will be re-evaluated at that point and the Rangers are hoping the conservative approach will allow them to avoid season-ending major surgery.

After the six-week shutdown, Gonzalez would need another 6-8 weeks of throwing to build up to full strength.

"Dr. Meister feels this treatment is the way to go," Rangers assistant general manager Josh Boyd said. "He's had success before with an injury of this nature."

Gonzalez, the Rangers' top Draft pick in 2013, has had elbow issues in the past, and he started feeling pain again in his last start. Gonzalez has allowed 13 runs in four innings over his past two starts, against the D-backs and Team Venezuela.

"He is a very talented young pitcher, a guy we think highly of," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "We'll be conservative with it and see if we can get him back out there."

Gonzalez was supposed to pitch Sunday against the Mariners. Knuckleballer Eddie Gamboa will make that start instead as the Rangers' rotation competition continues.

Mike Hauschild took his turn on Friday and struggled against the Angels. Hauschild said the problem was an ineffective changeup, while Banister pointed to lack of command. Whatever the cause, Hauschild gave up four runs in three innings.

"The changeup ... I was just yanking it," Hauschild said. "That's as bad it has been since I started throwing it. Usually it's a pitch that I go back to, but today I kept yanking it."

Griffin strengthens case for rotation spot

Hauschild entered the start having pitched six scoreless innings over his previous two outings, pushing himself into the middle of the competition for the final two spots in the rotation. He did pitch a scoreless first inning, striking out Jefry Marte with two on and two out on a wicked slider.

But the Angels scored three runs in the second and one more in the third. That was as far as Hauschild went, having thrown 73 pitches in three innings. He faced 18 batters and nine reached base on seven hits and two walks. He struck out three.

Hauschild will have at least two more outings before camp breaks. He was selected from the Astros organization in the Rule 5 Draft, so the Rangers have to offer him back if he does not make the club. The Rangers will give him a thorough evaluation before the spring is over.

"We are not going to over-evaluate it," Banister said. "This guy is still getting the feel for a Major League game, Major League Spring Training, Major League hitters and finding out what works for him. He has had good outings. We'd like this one to be better but it wasn't. He's got some toughness. He is going to continue to pitch."

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.