Jose Leclerc, the Texas Rangers’ righthanded relief pitcher, is heading back to Texas with elbow soreness, per the beats, and is expected to miss “extended time.”
That is very bad.
Leclerc missed most of 2020 due to a torn shoulder muscle — the same injury that limited Corey Kluber to one inning with the Rangers in 2020 — and his velocity has been down this spring. Leclerc appeared to be poised to claim a spot as one of the best relievers in baseball after his 2018 campaign, but he had an up-and-down 2019, basically didn’t pitch in 2020, and now apparently will start the season on the injured list.
This sort of news immediately has one bracing for the possibility of Tommy John surgery. Should Leclerc need Tommy John surgery, he would be out until probably June of 2022. That being said, it is also possible that it is not a situation where he has UCL damage that would necessitate TJS, in which case he could be back at some point in 2021.
The Rangers were already planning on starting the season without Jonathan Hernandez, who had been expected to play a big role this year after a breakout 2020. Hernandez was diagnosed with a UCL strain that did not require surgery, but which is expected to keep him out until June. In addition, lefthanders Brett Martin and Joely Rodriguez may start the season on the injured list.