Rangers' depth suffers while Harrison recovers

Rangers' depth suffers while Harrison recovers

ANAHEIM -- Rangers pitcher Matt Harrison underwent surgery on Tuesday to repair a herniated disc in his lower back. Harrison woke up from the surgery with normal soreness but was pain-free in his legs. The Rangers consider that a good sign.

"The surgery went as expected, there were no surprises," general manager Jon Daniels said.

The Rangers are still expecting Harrison to return sometime between the All-Star Game and Aug. 1. Right now, Justin Grimm is filling in as the club's fifth starter, with the possibility of injured pitchers Colby Lewis or Martin Perez being available to assume that slot by June 1.

The Rangers are still concerned about their depth. They claimed left-handed pitcher Charlie Leesman off waivers from the White Sox, but he exercised his right to become a free agent on Tuesday. Leesman, who was 12-10 with a 2.47 ERA in 26 starts at Triple-A last year, is coming off knee surgery and won't be ready for another month. But he surprised the Rangers by refusing the assignment because he was concerned about them having too much starting-pitching depth.

Daniels doesn't see it that way.

"Just where we are right now, I'm comfortable with the club," Daniels said. "But you're always thinking about the next hiccup."

The Dodgers thought they had plenty of starting pitching at the beginning of the season and traded veteran right-hander Aaron Harang to the Rockies. But injuries to pitchers Zack Greinke, Chris Capuano and Chad Billingsley have eroded their depth as well.

The Rangers' leading candidates to be summoned from Triple-A Round Rock in case of emergency are right-hander Josh Lindblom (2-0, 1.06 ERA) and left-hander Brad Mills (3-0, 2.52). Daniels said Lindblom, who has pitched out the bullpen his entire big league career but has switched to the rotation at Round Rock, is ready if needed at the big league level.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.