"Until he meets with the doctors, we just don't know," general manager Jon Daniels said. "It might be a normal speed bump coming off surgery, and it might not be. Even if he's cleared, until he gets out and plays again, we're not going to know the full picture."
Saltalamacchia was the Rangers' No. 1 catcher this past season until he came down with thoracic outlet syndrome. That's a condition in which a rib bone pushes against an artery or nerve in the shoulder, causing tingling and numbness in the arm. Saltalamacchia was forced out of two games in August because of the problem. He went on the disabled list on Aug. 15 and ultimately had surgery on Sept. 21.
The surgery was supposed to address the condition, and the Rangers expected Saltalamacchia to be 100 percent in Spring Training. That would leave him and Taylor Teagarden to share the catching duties again.
But if Saltalamacchia is having more shoulder problems, it could force the Rangers to re-address their catching situation.
"If everyone is healthy, we're confident in Salty and Teagarden," Daniels said. "Adding a veteran to the mix is definitely an option. We'll look and see if the right guy is out there, but our two guys are more talented than most guys on the market."
Among those guys on the market is Ivan Rodriguez, whom the Rangers acquired for the final six weeks of the 2009 season. He has since declared free agency, and the Rangers offered him arbitration on Tuesday. He has until 11 p.m. CT on Monday to accept. The Rangers don't expect Rodriguez to accept the offer, but they may have renewed interest in re-signing him depending on Saltalamacchia's situation.
"We've talked to [agent Scott Boras] and Pudge, and they have found some interest out there in the market," Daniels said. "They'll pursue that. We don't expect them to accept the arbitration offer, but we're going to keep the door open. We'd like to have him back."
The Rangers' main needs remain a right-handed bat for the middle of the lineup, a utility infielder and bullpen help. They have explored the possibility of signing a veteran starting pitcher, and Rich Harden's name has emerged, along with Ben Sheets.
"We've had some dialogue with a couple of different starters," Daniels said. "We're not closing the door on that."
But Texas seems more focused on reinforcing the bullpen. The Rangers know that the more they add to the relief corps, the more comfortable they would be moving Neftali Feliz and/or C.J. Wilson to the rotation.
"What we can add to the bullpen will impact which of those guys we can move into the rotation," Daniels said.
The Rangers' search for a right-handed bat could be limited by their financial situation, but they are still pursuing the possibility of re-signing Marlon Byrd.
"Marlon is a priority regardless," Daniels said. "We'd like to have him back, and he'd like to be back. It's just a matter of the economics involved."
If Byrd doesn't come back, the Rangers would use Josh Hamilton and possibly Julio Borbon in center field. But Daniels reiterated that the Rangers would like to move Hamilton to a corner spot.
"In a perfect world, that would be ideal, but it all depends on what we do," Daniels said.