Profar's progress slowed by removal of wisdom teeth
Rangers second baseman, already battling shoulder tendinitis, out three to five days
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers were close to having their Opening Day lineup together for the first time in Spring Training on Thursday, but that will be delayed further because of second baseman Jurickson Profar's wisdom teeth.
Profar, who has been dealing with shoulder tendinitis in Spring Training and has yet to play the field, underwent oral surgery on Thursday afternoon to have four wisdom teeth removed. He is expected to be unavailable for another three to five days.
"We should know more this weekend when he returns," assistant general manager Thad Levine said.
Profar's surgery came on a day when outfielder Alex Rios and Geovany Soto returned to the Rangers' lineup against the Giants. Rios was playing right field for the first time since March 4 while dealing with a strained intercostal muscle.
Soto underwent surgery on Feb. 22 to have a bone removed from his left foot and Thursday was his first game in the Cactus League. He was planning on being back by March 15, so he has beaten his deadline by two days.
The only other physical issue in the Opening Day lineup is Shin-Soo Choo, who is experiencing a mild case of biceps tendinitis. He was in the lineup on Thursday but at designated hitter. Mitch Moreland got his first start of the spring in left field.
So the only player missing from the projected Opening Day lineup is Profar, who has been limited to designated hitter duty since the Cactus League began. He leads the team with 40 at-bats, 12 hits, two home runs and 11 RBIs.
Profar was getting close to playing the field. He has increased his long toss to 120 feet and has been able to make all the throws from the infield. The final test is being able to do cutoff throws and relays, which was supposed to happen on Thursday. But his dental problem will delay that.
Beyond that, Profar has been able to do all his other defensive work and he is getting his at-bats in the game. By the time Profar does play second base in a Cactus League game, it will likely be fewer than two weeks to go before Opening Day, but the Rangers are still hopeful he'll be ready.
"This is not going to set him back," manager Ron Washington said. "He has been working every single day. We were going to do cutoffs and relays today but that's still in the making when he is able to go back out there and exert himself. His arm is not going to go limp."
Washington said it is also not a concern that Profar and shortstop Elvis Andrus have not had much time together to bond as double-play partners. Washington said turning the double play is a matter of the infielder fielding the ball making the right throw to the right spot. If the infielder does that, it doesn't matter who the double-play partner is.
"They will be fine," Washington said.
The Rangers are still looking for a utility infielder, and Brent Lillibridge started at second base on Thursday. He went into the game 7-for-14 in the Cactus League despite missing time with a jammed right thumb.
Adam Rosales came to camp as the only utility infielder on the 40-man roster. He is 3-for-16 at the plate but has played well defensively. The Rangers claimed Andy Parrino off waivers on March 3 and are still evaluating him. Josh Wilson is another utility candidate who is hitting .182. He has a reputation for being an excellent defensive player but has three errors.
Kensuke Tanaka, who showed his toughness by coming back quickly after having three broken teeth in Tuesday's game, is also in the mix but does not have as much experience as the others in playing shortstop. He was a top fielding second baseman in Japan.
"They're all still competing," Washington said. "We haven't made any decisions yet."
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.