ARLINGTON — The Rangers’ need for deep starting pitching became a little more apparent. Max Scherzer had back surgery on a herniated disc on Thursday, according to general manager Chris Young.
Young said Scherzer tried several “conservative treatments in pain management,” but the pain never went away. Ultimately, it was decided that surgery was the best course of action. Young did not provide an exact timetable, but indicated that the surgery would delay the start of Scherzer’s season until at least June or July.
The 39-year-old ace was traded by the Mets to the Rangers at the trade deadline last season for Luis Angel Acuna. He made eight starts for Texas, going 4-2 with a 3.20 ERA.
Scherzer left Game 3 of the World Series with back pain after three scoreless frames. He said he was “pretty locked in” at the time. He was removed from the World Series roster prior to Game 5, which would eventually clinch the Series.
“After returning to my offseason home in Florida, the discomfort in my back continued to worsen,” Scherzer said in a statement. I decided to undergo the recommended surgery. Getting this process done now will give the Rangers the best chance to pitch in 2024. I’m looking forward to rehabbing and getting back on the mountain next summer.”
Scherzer has a history of back injuries. He was sidelined for a couple of weeks midway through the 2019 season with back pain, then was scratched from the 5-game start to that year’s World Series due to neck and back spasms. He started the 7th game.
Scherzer missed the final six weeks of the 2023 regular season with a sprain in his right shoulder, but managed to start three postseasons as the Rangers won the first World Series title in franchise history.
Young said he does not believe the shoulder injury and back injury are related.
“I’ll tell you this. Max, in my experience, has a very high threshold for pain, and he knows his body really well,” Young said. “When he feels something, he’s very open and honest about how he feels. I think that’s helped us manage these things,
The Rangers’ Opening Day rotation now consists of Nathan Ewaldi, John Gray, Dan Dunning, Andrew Heaney and Cody Bradford. Ace Jacob de Grom and new signing Tyler Mahle are both expected to return from Tommy John at the same time as Scherzer.
Rangers minor league prospect Owen White (No. 8 prospect, an MLB pipeline), Cole Wynn (No. 28) and Jack Kent (NR) are on the 40-man roster. But White is the only player with major league experience after making two appearances last season.
Young said Scherzer’s injury won’t affect how active the Rangers will be in getting starting pitching.
“We were hoping to get a healthy Max Scherzer at the start of the season, obviously,” Young said. “We realized we needed pitching depth. I don’t know it changes much in terms of building that depth. It thins us out a little bit in the first half of the season….Again, pitching will be a focus and we’ll continue to look for any way to improve our club.”
Asked if the club still wanted to buy at least one “established” starter, Young said: “We’re certainly not going to rule out that opportunity.”