Injuries, disappointment headline Rangers' trying season

Injuries, disappointment headline Rangers' trying season

The Rangers set Major League records by using 64 players in 2014, including 40 pitchers. There were 23 rookies among those 64 players, as the Rangers used the disabled list a Major League-high 26 times.

By the end of the season, the Rangers had 12 players on the 60-day disabled list, a compendium of Who's Who that included outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, infielders Prince Fielder, Mitch Moreland and Jurickson Profar, and pitchers Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison, Alexi Ogando and Tanner Scheppers. The gruesome numbers sum up what might have been the single most disappointing season in Rangers history.

Before it was over, the Rangers also lost manager Ron Washington, who resigned on Sept. 6 for personal reasons, with Tim Bogar serving as interim for the remainder of the season. General manager Jon Daniels will conduct a thorough search for a new manager, with Bogar as a candidate. The Rangers' late-September surge only reinforced the strength of Bogar's candidacy.

The front office even took a couple of hits when A.J. Preller left to become the Padres general manager and took longtime special assistant Don Welke with him.

Daniels was hard-pressed to come up with anything positive to come out of this season.

"I think we have been able to see a lot of people step up," Daniels said. "From all the injuries, we have given opportunities to a number of guys who have taken advantage of it. With the people who left, A.J. Preller, Don Welke and Ron Washington, it has given opportunity to other guys and makes you realize the depth and quality of people you have.

"But the season has been tough, there are no two ways about it. Trying times. I think in a couple of years we'll look up and see some benefits from it and the opportunity we get next year [with the high Draft pick] on the amateur front."

The Rangers are hoping this season was a one-year aberration and they can turn things around quickly next season.

"You find out about people in the organization from tough times," Daniels said. "It has reinforced the sense of strong bond and talent we've got in the organization. We've got a lot of work to do, but we've got the right people to do it."

Record: 67-95, fifth place in the American League West.

Defining moment: On April 21, the Rangers defeated the Athletics in the first game of a three-game sweep. In the top of the seventh, Choo grounded out to third base and injured his ankle stepping awkwardly on first base. He had to come out of the game and tried playing on the ankle for four months. Choo was never able to play at full strength and finally had surgery in September. The Rangers used 10 position players and five pitchers in that game. Only four of those 15 saw action for the Rangers in late September when they swept the Athletics in another three-game series.

What went right: That's like asking the captain of the Titanic: "How was the first part of the cruise?" But Robinson Chirinos did fine behind the plate and Leonys Martin seemed to flourish as a leadoff hitter after Bogar turned him loose. Many of the young players had enough good moments to provide some hope they could be contributing players to a winning team in the future, although just about all of them still need to get better or at least more experience.

Adrian Beltre had another good year at the plate despite his supporting cast disappearing all around him. Shawn Tolleson had an excellent season as a middle reliever, and the Rangers were able to add some young arms in mid-season trades involving Jason Frasor and Joakim Soria. Probably the best news the Rangers had all season was Neftali Feliz's re-emergence as their once and future closer, and Colby Lewis making a tremendous comeback from hip and elbow surgery.

What went wrong: One week into '14, Derek Holland stumbled over his dog on the staircase, tore cartilage in his left knee and ended up missing five months of the season. It never got any better for the Rangers with an incredible series of injuries that pretty much gutted the whole team. The Rangers managed to stay afloat for the first two months of the season and were 29-28 on June 2, six games out of first place. Then the bottom fell out completely. The Rangers lost 29 of their next 38 games and were 21 games out at the All-Star break.

Biggest surprise: Chirinos wasn't even expected to make the team in Spring Training. The Rangers were planning on Geovany Soto and J.P. Arencibia being their catchers. But Soto's knee injury opened a spot for Chirinos on the Opening Day roster, and within one month he had supplanted Arencibia as the No. 1 catcher.

Hitter of the Year: Beltre was actually in the AL batting title chase for most of the season. His RBI numbers were down, but that's mainly because the entire offense was depleted by injuries. Beltre still ended up with another season that will enhance his Hall of Fame resume.

Pitcher of the Year: It's highly unusual for a club's Pitcher of the Year be someone who had a losing record and an ERA hovering around 5.0, especially since one of his teammates pitched in the All-Star Game. But the numbers don't reflect what Lewis accomplished by coming back from both flexor tendon surgery as well as hip replacement. It took about a half-season to really find himself, but in the second half Lewis was pitching close to like he did in 2010-11.

Rookie of the Year: The Rangers used 23 rookies, so there are plenty to choose from. But second baseman Rougned Odor was clearly the one rookie who stood out as someone who made a strong claim to be in the Opening Day lineup next season. He handled himself well offensively, improved tremendously on defense and impressed the Rangers with his fire and determination.

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.