It isn't officially spring training until we get a piece of gut-punch injury news.
Matt West: sprained UCL in right elbow. Shut down for 6 weeks of strengthening. If no significant progress Tommy John is an option.— Evan Grant (@Evan_P_Grant) March 3, 2012
So, spring is officially here.
Terrible news for the Rangers, who added West to the 40 man roster this offseason. West converted from third base to pitching last season and he immediately impressed, showcasing an upper-90s fastball and a devastating slurve, along with a mindset that had people thinking he could be a potential closer. Although he spent basically all of 2011 in short-season A ball, West was viewed as someone who could potentially come really quickly and maybe even contribute out of the pen this year.
Now, there's a distinct possibility he'll miss the entire 2012 season.
I guess you could say that West should have been viewed as more of an injury risk than most, since he pitched full time for the first time last season and had the sort of power slurve that seems to be hard on pitchers' elbows (see, e.g., Kerry Wood).
But this sucks.
UPDATE -- Evan Grant explains why the Rangers think that West may be able to recover from this without surgery. At the risk of sounding cynical, however, it always seems to me that trying the "rehab" route to avoid T-J surgery simply results in delaying T-J surgery by a few months.