Just when you thought it couldn't possibly get any worse, it did.
Multiple local media sources, including Anthony Andro of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, are reporting that a Monday afternoon MRI exam performed on the injured groin of Texas Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler by team physician Dr. Keith Meister revealed a debilitating sports hernia that could require season-ending surgery.
Kinsler is expected to receive a second opinion on the severity of the injury as soon as Tuesday from a recommended sports hernia specialist, which should prove to be the determining factor with regard to whether or not Kinsler ends up undergoing surgery immediately (which would reportedly knock him out of action for eight weeks) or postpones such a procedure until after the season.
The 26-year-old middle infielder had been in the midst of his finest professional season to date after receiving a five-year, $22 million contract extension back on February 19th, hitting .319/.375/.517 (135 OPS+ and .304 EqA) with 18 HR in 518 AB and swiping 26 bases in 28 attempts.
In a sad twist of fate, Baseball Prospectus's Joe Sheehan had just earlier in the day made note of the fact that Kinsler's 56.1 VORP and 6.4 WARP1 both led the American League; a prolonged offensive slump since the All-Star break (.258/.300/.417 in 120 AB) had taken its toll on his previously sparkling numbers, but Ian had hiked his season OPS by 23 points with an eight-game hitting streak (.389/.395/.778 in 36 AB) that was still active at the time of his incapacitation.
The injury effectively brings an end to his American League Most Valuable Player aspirations:
"There is a lot of stuff I still wanted to accomplish," Kinsler said. "You prepare to play the whole season, and when it's cut short, well, it's not what you expect to have happen at all. I'm having a great season. I wanted to steal the MVP from [Josh] Hamilton. I guess I'll just have to do it again next year."
Really, really tough news to stomach.
Infielder Joaquin Arias has been recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma to assume Kinsler's place on the active roster; the 23-year-old Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic native was hitting just .296/.329/.421 with the RedHawks at the time of his promotion, albeit with 23 steals in 28 attempts.
Manager Ron Washington will evidently employ a platoon of Ramon Vazquez and Arias at second base during Kinsler's absence, with Travis Metcalf, Chris Davis, Frank Catalanotto and Hank Blalock also factoring into the equation in a rather convoluted manner that I really don't wish to discuss right now.
Those of you rooting for a sub-.500 record out of this '08 Rangers squad so that a first-round pick in the 2009 MLB First-Year Player Draft might not be forfeited if Texas inks a Type A free agent this winter just received an unfortunate, but indubitably powerful boost to your hopes.