Texas Rangers pitcher Keone Kela is dealing with shoulder stiffness that has the team giving him a “break” right now, according to Gerry Fraley. Kela, who spent time on the disabled list last season due to shoulder issues, hasn’t pitched since Monday, and Fraley says there’s not an established date when he will pitch again.
Kela is one of the pitchers vying for the currently unclaimed closer role this season, though the shoulder issue could complicate things for him. If his workload is going to have to be monitored, or if the team is going to want to avoid having him pitch on back-to-back days, that will likely mean he’ll be slotted for a setup role rather than being the designated ninth inning guy.
It remains to be seen whether Kela will need to start 2018 on the disabled list. The Rangers are still determining whether they are going to have a five man or a six man rotation, and whether Martin Perez and Tim Lincecum will be ready to go to start the season. If Kela needs to start the year on the d.l., that could possibly result in the team starting the year with a four man bench, rather than the currently planned three man bench, which might allow Rule 5 pick Carlos Tocci to stick around a little longer. Alternatively, it could increase the chances of Jesse Chavez, in camp on a non-guaranteed major league deal, making the team as a long man.
Kela is a weapon out of the pen when healthy, so the situation with his shoulder will be something to monitor as we get closer to Opening Day.