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Martin Perez Is Also Back, or Might Be

On July 24, in what amounted to my FanGraphs debut, I wrote in so many words that Matt Harrison is – and I quote – “back.” Well, he’s back, all right – back on the disabled list, not only with stiffness in the surgically repaired back that kept him sidelined for the better – or, really, worse – part of two years but also with a diagnosis of hypothyroidism.

As I wrote in so many words: mercy.
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Matt Harrison Is Back

When Rangers lefty Matt Harrison hobbled off the mound in the second inning of a game against the Astros in May of 2014, you, like any rational observer (such as the esteemed yours truly), probably experienced the lumbar equivalent of a sympathetic pregnancy. You probably winced — and just in case the initial wince didn’t register with the awww-jeeeez registry, winced again — and then reached for your lower back, wiggled it around while listening to the unmistakable sounds of Pachinko and fell to the floor in unmitigated agony after reaching for the business card of a chiropractor.

Or something like that.

Mercy.

It was painful to watch, and more painful, surely, for poor Matt Harrison to bear. Having already undergone a pair of 2013 surgeries to repair a herniated disc, Harrison, with his head bowed and back slightly but tellingly bent, walked gingerly to the dugout that day with four earned runs (in 1.2 innings) in his wake and, worse, one lumbar spinal disc fusion surgery in his future.

Couched in the careful language of objective reports were subtle eulogies to his once ascendant career, little nods to the possibility — the probability — that the 6-foot-4 former All-Star had thrown his last big league pitch, or, really, his last pitch, period. After all, nobody else in the history of baseball — a sport, mind you, in which unfettered actions of the spinal column are pretty key to performance — had ever undergone the same surgical procedure, let alone returned from it. In a season that saw so many Rangers sojourn in long disability, Harrison seemed bound for a permanent stay.

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