MLB.com Columnist

Tracy Ringolsby

Rangers, Rockies ready to rebound from DL-heavy year

Texas led Majors with 2,281 days lost to disabled list; Colorado's plans also derailed by injuries

Rangers, Rockies ready to rebound from DL-heavy year

It's been a wild winter out West, what with the continued restructuring of the A's, makeover of the Padres, fine-tuning of the Mariners and revamping of the Dodgers up the middle.

And then there are the Rangers and the Rockies.

The Rangers are looking to rebound from last season's American League-worst 95 losses, coming on the heels of a four-year stretch in which they won two AL pennants (2010-11), an AL Wild Card berth (2012) and lost a Game 163 playoff (2013).

And the Rockies are far from satisfied with a four-year stretch that has seen them finish fourth place twice (2011, 2014) and fifth place twice (2012-13), obscuring the memories of postseason appearances in 2009 and 2007, including the franchise's only World Series visit in '07.

As painful as the 2014 season was for both teams, that's simply the reason why they feel a lot better about what awaits them next week with the opening of Spring Training.

Rangers on preparing for spring

Think about it.

A year ago, the Rangers had the basic roster that had enjoyed a successful four-year run, with the addition of the run-producing Prince Fielder at first base and Shin-Soo Choo in left field. The Rockies, meanwhile, had a lineup that included five players with All-Star appearances on their resume, plus two-time Gold Glove third baseman Nolan Arenado and two of the most successful starting pitchers in Coors Field history.

Not that it mattered.

The Rangers and Rockies both had their seasons shredded by injuries.

The Rockies used the disabled list a Major League-leading 27 times last year, one more than the Rangers, and the Rangers ran away with the lead for days on the disabled list at 2,281, well ahead of the D-backs, who ranked second at 1,448. The Rockies were fifth in the Majors, losing 1,110 days of player availability.

Were the evaluations of the season-opening rosters a year ago misguided? Or were their high hopes deflated by unfortunate injuries?

Time will tell.

Both teams chose to keep their nucleus intact during the offseason, filling in a few holes but avoiding any major overhaul.

Oh, the Rangers did beef up the rotation, sending three prospects to the Brewers for Yovani Gallardo, a potential free agent in the fall, and picked up Ross Detwiler from the Nationals. They are counting on Yu Darvish bouncing back from the right elbow inflammation that sidelined him the final seven weeks last season, and they knew they had to fill holes created by Matt Harrison not being close to ready from back surgery last June and phenom Martin Perez expecting to miss the entire season after last June's Tommy John surgery.

And while they did allow outfielder Alex Rios to leave as a free agent, the Rangers kept the rest of the offense in place, confident that they can put an outfield together out of as many as a dozen candidates they will bring to spring camp. And the Rangers are counting on the return of Fielder from neck surgery, Choo from left ankle and elbow surgeries, DH Mitch Moreland from left ankle surgery, and second baseman Jurickson Profar being ready some point early in the season after missing all of 2014 with shoulder problems.

Fielder, after all, had missed only one game in the five seasons prior to 2014, and never more than five in a season from 2006-13, and he won't turn 31 until May 9.

Ditto the Rockies.

They signed Kyle Kendrick to add experience at the back of the rotation, Nick Hundley to provide stability behind the plate, and Daniel Descalso as left-handed protection for the right-handed bats of DJ LeMahieu at second, Troy Tulowitzki at short and Arenado at third.

Veteran Kendrick joins Rockies

Much like the Rangers, this is a make-or-break season for the Rockies' nucleus, particularly the 3-4 lineup combo of outfielder Carlos Gonzalez and Tulowitzki. They are counted on to be the forces of the franchise, but Gonzalez has been limited to 180 games the last two years (70 in 2014), and Tulowitzki has been limited to 264 games total the last three years.

Kendrick isn't being asked to be a savior in the rotation. Jorge De La Rosa fills the No. 1 spot and has shown no fear of Coors Field. His .763 winning percentage at Coors (45-14) is the second-best home field record among starting pitchers to Zack Greinke since 2008, when De La Rosa joined the Rockies.

The Rockies are confident that Jhoulys Chacin learned the importance of an offseason program the hard way a year ago, and wonder what might have been had Jordan Lyles not broken a finger on a tag play at home plate. And out of the problems that forced the Rockies to use 15 different pitchers in the rotation last year emerged 2009 first-round pick Tyler Matzek, who was 4-2 with a 1.55 ERA in his final six starts.

This year, the Rockies, like the Rangers, are looking forward to seeing if the plans they put in place a year ago will work now.

Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.