SURPRISE, ARIZ. — The long road back from labrum surgery is bumpy enough, but when you throw in a fractured bone in the wrist, it gets even tougher.
While the rest of his teammates are packing up to leave spring training, Rangers 2004 first-round pick Eric Hurley is still trying to get his recovery back on track. Hurley, who hasn't pitched since July 27, 2008, looked to be about a month behind pitchers at the start of spring training, but a month in, it was discovered that Hurley had a fractured scaphoid bone in his left (non-pitching) wrist.
So, Hurley underwent surgery on March 17 to have a screw inserted into the bone and had to stop throwing for about 10 days. He was scheduled to get back on a mound just as camp was about to break and, barring further setback, his targeted range for returning to action is June. That would be a 23-month layoff.
"My frustration level is through the roof," Hurley said. "But I assume that would be a pretty standard statement for somebody in this situation. You fight back from surgery and the next thing you know, you are having surgery somewhere else."
The frustration pre-dates the surgery.
Hurley, 24, reached the majors in June, 2008 and picked up his first major league win on June 29 of that season. But he went on the DL before making another start with a strained hamstring, then had his return pushed back by shoulder inflammation. After throwing for the Rangers' staff, he said he felt well enough to return to the rotation and was activated. With the Rangers trying to finish off a sweep of Oakland, his return lasted just two innings. And he hasn't pitched since.
Hurley, however, won't question his decision-making in making the return.
The challenge Hurley faces when he does get back to competition is making himself standout among a group of fast-moving Rangers' prospects.
• Righthander Tanner Scheppers is scheduled to begin the season at Double-A Frisco. He will pitch in relief there as the Rangers try to monitor his innings.
• Also at Frisco: righthander Alexi Ogando, who was just as tantalizing as Scheppers. Ogando will work as a starter, though with strict pitch limits, as the Rangers try to get him more confident with his secondary pitches. Ogando, 26, could also be a candidate to help the bullpen out this year.