They were one of MLB's most injury-depleted clubs over the past two seasons, so the last thing the Texas Rangers wanted to see was a continuation of that trend early this year.
After top prospect Nomar Mazara provided reason for optimism in the wake of two more injuries, the visiting Rangers hope to end their win drought versus right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma on Monday night in their series opener against the Seattle Mariners.
Texas (3-4) set a big league record for number of players used in 2014 en route to a last-place finish in the AL West. The club then had to overcome the loss of No. 1 starter Yu Darvish and more than 1,400 player games to the disabled list last year to win the division.
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So it was déjà vu on Sunday when Texas announced Shin-Soo Choo will miss at least four weeks due to a strained calf and Robinson Chirinos will be out at least 10 weeks because of a broken forearm. Choo has started 3 for 16, while Chirinos is 4 for 15 with a home run.
Choo's injury, however, is giving the Rangers a chance to get an up-close look at Mazara, their 2015 Minor League Player of the Year. The 20-year-old outfielder lived up to the hype in his debut, going 3 for 4 with a home run in Sunday's 3-1 road loss to the Los Angeles Angels.
''It was an incredible debut for a guy who's extremely young for the major league level, and an incredible weekend for him,'' said manager Jeff Banister, whose club only had four other hits.
Now the Rangers could have a difficult time getting going offensively in their second look at Iwakuma over the past seven days. He's been outstanding against the Rangers, going 6-0 with a 2.87 ERA over his last eight starts and 8-1 with a 3.00 mark in the past 12.
Iwakuma (0-0, 3.60 ERA) allowed two runs over five innings but failed to pick up his seventh consecutive victory in this series in last Tuesday's 10-2 victory at Globe Life Park.
Elvis Andrus had two hits and an RBI off Iwakuma in that contest, but he's 8 for 36 (.222) lifetime in the matchup. Adrian Beltre has had the most success, batting .308 with three home runs in 39 career at-bats after going 1 for 3 when facing him last week.
Texas counters with right-hander Colby Lewis, who is 1-4 with a 5.00 ERA while allowing 10 home runs in his last seven starts versus Seattle (2-4). He received a no-decision after allowing three runs over six innings in last Wednesday's 9-5 loss to the Mariners.
Robinson Cano is 8 for 21 with a home run when facing Lewis (0-0, 4.50), while Franklin Gutierrez has gone 6 for 16 with two homers and Kyle Seager is 10 for 29 with two homers.
Cano is 2 for 12 with one extra-base hit since going deep four times in the season-opening series. The star slugger is batting .341 over an 11-game hitting streak against the Rangers.
Former Rangers Nelson Cruz and Leonys Martin each had two hits Sunday, but the Mariners went 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position in a 2-1, 10-inning home loss to Oakland. They totaled four runs with a .155 average in dropping all three in the series.
''We're just not getting it done with the bats right now," manager Scott Servais said.