PHOENIX — Rangers postseason star Adolis García was the first player at Chase Field on Tuesday afternoon, getting treatment and hoping to put himself in a position to return to the field. The right fielder was removed from Game 3 of the World Series on Monday with a moderate left oblique strain.
Instead, García was unable to swing properly and was subsequently replaced on the World Series roster ahead of Tuesday’s Game 4 along with Game 3 starter Max Scherzer, who left Monday’s contest with back spasms.
Ezequiel Duran was added in place of García and left-hander Brock Burke joined the bullpen to replace Scherzer. García and Scherzer are both ineligible to return for the remaining games of the Fall Classic.
Rangers general manager Chris Young said both injuries would have required stints on the injured list in the regular season.
“It was pretty easy,” Young said. “Adolis did everything he could today. He came in, was the first guy in today. He got as much treatment as possible. He went down to the cage and gave it a go, and it was very clear he was in pain.
“[Max’s] back is in the same spot it was last night. He received a full day of treatment and there was no progress. Our medical team has extreme concern in terms of his ability to recover over the next few days that would allow him to pitch in this Series.”
Travis Jankowski got his first start of the postseason in García’s stead in right field, batting ninth, with DH Mitch Garver batting third ahead of Evan Carter at cleanup.
Scherzer, who left Game 3 after three scoreless frames with back spasms, “was pretty locked up when he walked in” on Tuesday, and the 39-year-old was also receiving treatment, “trying to get loose some,” per Rangers manager Bruce Bochy, “but he’s not feeling well.”
Bochy said before the players were replaced that the club had to fully consider if either Scherzer or García could contribute at all in the final games of the World Series.
Young said that after the evaluations, it was clear that neither could do that.
“We’re just at a point in time where we don’t have the time to wait these things out,” Young said.
García exited Texas’ 3-1 win over Arizona in Game 3 on Monday night with what the team called left side tightness after taking an awkward swing on a flyout to center field in the eighth inning. He immediately grimaced and grabbed his lower back after making contact and was replaced in right field by Jankowski in the bottom of the frame.
Bochy said he opted to start Jankowski in Game 4 over Robbie Grossman — who played 72 games in the outfield this season — because of the defensive value he provides, despite Grossman’s power potential at the plate.
“I’d say more than anything Jankowski, he’s such a good defender,” Bochy said. “They’re going to be using everybody out there [in the bullpen]. So it’s hard to pick the matchup you want on the starter in a game like tonight.
“That probably weighed as heavily as anything. Right now we’re going with our best defense out there. And we’ll adjust as the game goes with the matchups, who is on base, things like that, pinch-hitting.”
Duran played 34 games in left field this season but didn’t crack the roster for any of the postseason rounds. The outfield configuration could change to include Duran or Grossman in the following games.
Young added that top prospect Wyatt Langford was not a consideration to replace García on the roster.
Scherzer was pulled after throwing two warmup pitches at the start of the bottom of the fourth inning Monday. He said postgame that he first felt something on a slider to Arizona third baseman Evan Longoria in the third. With Scherzer off the roster, Jon Gray is lined up to start a potential Game 7. That could affect his availability out of the bullpen — where he’s been a postseason revelation — in Game 5 and Game 6 (if necessary).
Burke was on the Rangers’ roster for both the American League Wild Card Series and the AL Division Series, but not the AL Championship Series or the World Series. He only made one postseason appearance in Game 2 of the ALDS in Baltimore, where he faced three batters and allowed two runs. The lefty posted a 4.37 ERA over 53 relief appearances in his third MLB season in 2023.
García’s absence is a big blow to the Rangers’ lineup. The slugging outfielder has been the engine of Texas’ offense, posting a .323/.382/.726 slash line with eight home runs and a record 22 RBIs in 15 postseason games, earning ALCS MVP honors along the way. He was the hero in Game 1 of the World Series after hitting a walk-off homer in the 11th inning. He’s also made his impact felt on defense, throwing out Christian Walker at the plate in the second inning of Game 3.
Duran slashed .276/.324/.443 and set career highs in hits (112), runs (55), home runs (14), RBIs (46) and walks (23) in 122 games with the Rangers this season. He appeared at shortstop (37), left field (34), third base (22), second base (9), first base (2) and right field (1).
The Rangers have a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
The Rangers are no strangers to dealing with injuries this season. Five of Texas’ six All-Stars landed on the injured list in the second half, with second baseman Marcus Semien being the only one to play all 162 regular-season games.
“I can’t say enough about the mental toughness about this club and the resilience they have shown,” Bochy said. “They don’t get down. There’s no point in it. They understand you have to focus forward. It’s not great news. You hate to lose your cleanup hitter, but it happened. The only thing we can do is handle it in the right way, and this club has done it all year. That’s why I’m so proud of them.”