SEATTLE -- Rangers pitcher Matt Harrison is back and he is ready to go. Harrison will be making his first start since April 6, 2013 when he pitches against the Mariners on Sunday afternoon at Safeco Field.
"It was a long road ... a lot of setbacks," Harrison said. "I went through a lot of pain with the surgeries. But getting back to this day tomorrow is what motivated me. I just focused on getting back."
Harrison, an 18-game winner in 2012, was the Rangers' Opening Day pitcher last season but made just two starts before being diagnosed with a herniated disc in his lower back. He underwent surgery on April 23 and again on May 1, and did not return the rest of the season. He also had surgery for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome on his right shoulder on Sept. 9.
There was a time last year when Harrison felt he might not make it back. In addition to the two back operations, he was shut down in August after three outings on medical rehab assignment when the back wasn't responding the way he expected.
"The back not being 100 percent … I started wondering if this was something I could overcome," Harrison said. "We shut it down at the end of last year and just stayed focused … stayed focused on getting healthy. But at that point I was seriously wondering if I was going to get back.
"It was tough. I had signed a long-term [five years, $55 million] and I wanted to prove I was worth the time and the money to pitch at this level. It was tough after what I had done in my career, to be shut down with back surgery … it was hard to get through it."
Harrison made three starts on rehab this month and the last one convinced the Rangers he is ready. Pitching for Double-A Frisco, Harrison threw eight scoreless innings while allowing three hits and a walk while striking out five. He threw just 86 pitches.
"I feel 100 percent," Harrison said. "I feel like I did before the injury. The big thing is I just can't go out there, take a deep breath, relax and say, 'I'm back.' That's not going to help anybody. I need to focus on what I needed to do. Be aggressive and attack. I think my mind frame is in the right place."
Manager Ron Washington said Harrison won't be on a set pitch count. Washington said common sense will dictate how deep Harrison will go in the game.
"He's ready to go, he just has to control his emotions," Washington said.
Choo uncertainty leaves roster move pending
SEATTLE -- The Rangers will have to make a roster move before Sunday's game to make room for Matt Harrison. It may be time to decide if Shin-Soo Choo needs to go on the disabled list with a sprained left ankle.
"We've discussed some things but I don't have any specifics," Rangers manager Ron Washington said Saturday.
Choo hasn't played since Monday in Oakland. The ankle is getting better, but not to the point where he can be used in a game even as a pinch-hitter. The Rangers used infielder Luis Sardinas to pinch-hit for catcher J.P. Arencibia in the ninth inning on Friday night because Choo was unavailable.
"I just feel bad right now because I can't do anything," Choo said. "It's a little bit frustrating. It's not easy sitting in the dugout."
If the Rangers don't put Choo on the disabled list, they'll likely send down either Sardinas or outfielder Daniel Robertson. But that would leave the Rangers short one player on the bench. The other option would be to send down a pitcher and go with a six-man bullpen but the Rangers are reluctant to do that.
"We want to keep as much pitching as we can," Washington said.
Holland progresses to live batting practice
SEATTLE -- Pitcher Derek Holland, who is on the 60-day disabled list after undergoing knee surgery in January, has taken another step in his recovery by beginning to throw live batting practice in Arizona.
He is also doing some fielding drills to tolerance. Holland's goal is to return some time in June although it may be closer to the All-Star Game.
Other pitching updates:
• Tanner Scheppers, sidelined with elbow inflammation, has still not resumed throwing. Sunday will mark 10 days since Scheppers last pitched in a game.
• Joe Saunders, on the disabled list with a bruised left ankle, has a live batting practice scheduled for Tuesday in Arizona and could be close to going on medical rehabilitation assignment.
• Joe Ortiz, who missed all of Spring Training with a broken left foot, has begun a throwing program.
• Infielder Josh Wilson was fine on Saturday after getting hit in the left forearm with a pitch in the ninth inning. Donnie Murphy started at second base but Wilson was available. Said Wilson, "I thought it would be a little stiff but it's not that bad."
• Some Rangers pitchers took batting practice for the first time since Spring Training on Saturday. The Rangers play at Colorado on May 5-6 for their first road Interleague games with Martin Perez and Robbie Ross scheduled to pitch.
• The Rangers' 6-5 loss to the Mariners on Friday night ended with Adrian Beltre lining out into a double play with the bases loaded. The last time a Rangers loss ended with the tying and winning runs on base and the hitter lining out into a double play was on Aug. 18, 1987 at Arlington Stadium when Larry Parrish did so in a 7-6 defeat to the Royals.
• Rangers pitchers hit four batters on Friday, one short of the club record. They had five hit batters against the Royals on Sept. 3, 1989 and four against the Royals on Sept. 1, 1992.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.