On an already brutal Wednesday for Rangers starting pitchers (Martin Perez may be facing Tommy John surgery), veteran lefty Matt Harrison has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with what the team is calling lower back inflammation. Here's the worse news from Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News:
LHP Matt Harrison has a displacement of a verterba in his back, along with significant nerve irritation, and is facing either “living” with the condition or having spinal fusion surgery, from which there is not much data about successful returns to the major leagues. The condition is known as spondylolisthesis. In the condition, a verterba slips out of position on top of a bone below it.
Harrison underwent disk surgery in April of 2013 and then underwent a follow-up procedure roughly a month later. This would be a third back surgery in a little more than a year's time. As Jeff Wilson of the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram tweets, this third surgery, should it come to pass, could put Harrison's career in jeopardy.
This also goes beyond "mere" pain tolerance. An injury like this, even if it's tolerated, can affect a pitcher's mechanics drastically or in ways that are all but imperceptible. So it's not just matter of Harrison's "gutting it out" or whatever.
Harrison has struggled with his command in four starts this season, but for his career he owns a 107 ERA+ in 132 games, 100 of which have been starts. In 2012, Harrison made the All-Star team and finished eighth in the AL Cy Young balloting.