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Harrison's health bigger key for Rangers now

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 21, 2014 at 4:43 pm •  Published: January 21, 2014

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Having Matt Harrison healthy to start the season is even more important now for the Texas Rangers with Derek Holland hurt.

Harrison, who last season had as many operations on his back as starts (two), said Tuesday that he feels good and is on track to be ready for spring training and the start of the season.

"So far, so good, so hopefully keep going in the right direction," Harrison said after playing long toss, a day after a bullpen session throwing at about 80 percent. "Every day is getting a little better."

After being an All-Star and winning 18 games in 2012, Harrison got a new $55 million, five-year contract and was the opening day starter. The big left-hander started only the opener and one other game last season before two operations in nine days on a herniated disk in his lower back.

Pitching coach Mike Maddux said Harrison, who has lost about 30 pounds, "was free and easy" during a 35-pitch bullpen session Monday. Harrison has been working out since October and thrown about six bullpen sessions since late December.

"If he's healthy, a real high degree of confidence he's going to perform," general manager Jon Daniels said. "The biggest thing, we just want to make sure he doesn't feel any additional pressure with what happened with Derek. I don't want him to try to ramp it up any quicker."

Holland had microfracture surgery on his left knee Jan. 10, and isn't expected back before at least midseason. He got hurt after being tripped by his dog on the stairs at his home.

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