ARLINGTON — The 2014 Texas Rangers season has taught us a lot.
It has given us practice in handling adversity, exercises in patience, and it has given fans a challenge to not take another 90-win season for granted.
But possibly the most prominent lesson this woeful campaign has taught us is that the diagnosis of 'inflammation' is the most euphemistic and misleading thing one can find on an injury report. The word has been 12 letters that fill a brief and fleeting time period with false hope before a much more dire verdict is unveiled.
Yu Darvish is the most recent Ranger reliever to hit the disabled list with "elbow inflammation."
It seems like such a non-event. An ailment that a 15-day residency on the DL would easily resolve.
"It doesn't sound like a big deal," manager Ron Washington said, describing the term to a group of media members that didn't need it explained. "You take a dose pack and wean you down. By the time you get to the last medicine you take you're ready to go."
Both Martin Perez (May 14) and Pedro Figueroa (April 23) were placed on the disabled list earlier this season with 'elbow inflammation. They weren't at the ballpark Friday to be asked what "dose pack" they're taking to rehab their surgically-repaired ulnar collateral ligaments for 12 to 18 months.
Tanner Scheppers (April 18) hit the 15-day DL with 'elbow inflammation' on April 5 and didn't return until June 8. He was placed back on the DL with the same condition less than a week later. Alexi Ogando fell victim to 'inflammation' on June 4, and, of course, was placed on the 15-day disabled list.
He's now on the 60-day disabled list, and neither Scheppers nor Ogando will pitch again this season.
"We didn't think it was significant anyway," Washington said of Darvish's trip to the DL this week. "It was a precaution doing what we got done. I wasn't expecting anything bad to come from that."
Nothing but bad results have come from an original report of 'inflammation' this season.
Just ask Matt Harrison, who was sidelined with "lower back inflammation" on May 14. His career is in jeopardy.
Everyone has inflammation, even Washington admitted that Friday -- heck, I'm almost 400 words deep into this article and my metacarpals are tightening up a bit... Let's call it inflammation, and I'll start my dose pack after I publish this sucker -- but we don't all have undergo L5-S1 lumbar fusion surgery or replace critical ligaments in our elbows.
To say one has 'inflammation' with an injured muscle or joint is like saying one is bleeding when they've been cut. But that could be a paper cut or a machete wound. Is Yu Darvish's 'inflammation,' which coincides with a more frequent use of the slider, an elbow-straining pitch, just a paper cut for the first time this season?
Darvish told the media Thursday that the DL stint is a precaution, and that he could pitch now if he really pushed himself -- and pushing it wouldn't make any sense, no matter how many ESPN Dallas columnists say he's leaving the team hanging.
But, even though 'mild inflammation' is the second diagnosis after an MRI exam in this instance, history would suggest that we haven't heard the last about Yu's elbow. I'm not a doctor, and I'm not saying Yu needs Tommy John surgery, but every ambiguous case of 'inflammation' this season has escalated into something much worse.
Wash said the plan is for Darvish to return to the mound after his 15-day stint (retroactive to August 10) is over, just one day after Darvish left no indication that seeing him on the mound again in 2014 is a sure bet.
"The plan is to for him to come back on the 25th. We haven't had any discussion along any other line," Washington said.
That's the intention. But I personally won't be surprised if Darvish doesn't pitch again until spring of 2015.
Maybe one of the other five pitchers on the shelf with 'inflammation' can spare him a dose pack.
Landon Haaf is a writer and editor for WFAA, a sports geek and dress sock enthusiast. He is a member of the IBWAA and has covered the Rangers during the 2012-14 seasons. He also hates the term 'inflammation.' Find him on Twitter @LandonHaaf.