ARLINGTON -- Rangers pitcher Derek Holland underwent surgery to repair torn cartilage behind his left kneecap on Friday and is expected to be out until midseason.
Holland sustained the injury during a fall at his home on Tuesday.
"I am devastated by this injury," Holland said in a statement released by the team. "It was a freak accident at home, resulting in a hard fall on my knee. As upsetting as it is, my goal is to begin rehab and get back on the mound as soon as possible."
Holland was expected to be in the Rangers rotation. General manager Jon Daniels said the club is looking for starting depth, but this could also provide an opportunity for an internal candidate to step up.
Daniels suggested the Rangers aren't likely to acquire a significant pitcher from outside the organization.
"I don't think that's realistic," Daniels said in a conference call on Friday afternoon.
The Rangers are among the teams monitoring Japanese free-agent pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. There are still several attractive free-agent starting pitchers on the market -- including right-hander Matt Garza, who was 4-5 with a 4.38 ERA in 13 starts for the Rangers after being acquired from the Cubs on July 22.
Nick Tepesch, who was 4-6 with a 4.84 ERA in 17 starts and two relief appearances as a rookie for the Rangers last season, is the leading candidate to fill Holland's spot. The Rangers have also re-signed pitcher Colby Lewis to a Minor League contract. Lewis has not pitched in the Major Leagues since July 18, 2012, while recovering from surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right elbow. Lewis also had surgery on his right hip in August but is still expected to be ready for Spring Training.
The Rangers have also signed veteran pitcher Jose Contreras to a Minor League contract, and they are expected to give left-handed reliever Robbie Ross a chance to start. The Rangers' top Minor League pitching prospect is right-hander Luke Jackson, who is ranked No. 10 among the organization's prospects by MLB.com. The Rangers have also signed pitchers Justin Germano and Ryan Feierabend to Minor League contracts. Both have experience as Major League starters.
"We have been looking for pitching depth, and I expect we will add somebody," Daniels said. "I expect it will be more in the depth category, rather than somebody at the front of the rotation. This is an opportunity for somebody to step up and seize the opportunity."
Holland was 10-9 with a 3.42 ERA in 33 starts for the Rangers last season. He is entering the third season of a five-year, $28.5 million contract signed on March 30, 2012. Right now, the Rangers' rotation includes Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison, Alexi Ogando and Martin Perez, with the fifth spot now up in the air. Harrison is recovering from two back operations last season and also had surgery on his right, non-throwing shoulder. He said this week he expects to be at full strength for Spring Training.
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.Less