Texas Rangers relief pitcher Jose Leclerc cannot catch a break.
As Kennedi Landry noted for the official MLB website, Leclerc has returned to Texas to see Dr. Keith Meister and undergo tests after reporting elbow soreness and discomfort. General manager Chris Young suggested on Monday the 27-year-old will be out long-term because of this latest setback.
Leclerc was limited to only two appearances during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season because of a shoulder injury.
"Given the injury he's coming off last year, our buildup of Jose this spring has been a little bit slower," Young explained. "We've been very cautious with him; everything has gone smoothly. No elbow issues whatsoever until the other night. It was really out of the blue, so we were all really kind of caught off guard."
Leclerc recorded 14 saves in 2019 and 12 the previous campaign, and he was expected to compete for the closer role this spring. Instead, manager Chris Woodward could turn to a "closer by committee" strategy with 2020 closer Jonathan Hernandez out indefinitely with an elbow ligament sprain.
"I don't necessarily know if [Hernandez or Leclerc] would have been our closer, per se," Woodward added. "I think now we're in a situation to start the season, regardless of what was going on, that it’s going to be earned. I think ideally, after a month or so, I would love to have an option to rely on as the closer. I think up until then we have to see where guys are at and see how guys are doing from a performance standpoint."