Patience is smart approach for Harrison

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Matt Harrison blames his back tightness on a soft bed. And he thinks he found the remedy: one night of sleep on the floor and a new, firmer bed to rest in while in Arizona from here on out.

Of course, that's just Harrison's opinion. He'll seek professional advice from Dr. Dossett, the guy that handled both of Harrison's back surgeries last year, in an evaluation on Monday. But the fact that Harrison isn't feeling the tightness any more has him encouraged.

It also has him realistic. The left-hander conceded on Sunday that he isn't likely to be ready for the opening series against the Philadelphia Phillies. The Rangers haven't formed a plan for Harrison and won't until (and if) they get a green light from Dossett. But Harrison is now a week behind and that will inch toward 10 days before he can start throwing again, if Dossett gives his OK. Harrison will still need to start throwing again and pitch in live batting practice sessions before he could toe the rubber in a Cactus League game.

"This little setback set them on high alert and they’re probably going to slow it down a little bit, which I hate, because going through a healthy offseason and being ready to go it’s tough to get shut down," Harrison said. "But it’s early."

And it's smart. The Rangers need Harrison to make as many starts as he can in 2014. Rushing him so that he's ready when the season starts isn't the most prudent way to do that. Perhaps instead of making two starts and missing the rest -- like he did in 2013 -- Harrison can miss the first start or two and make 30 more.

"We want these guys to be strong at the end of the season," assistant GM Thad Levine said. "Starts in September and October are definitely more valued in our minds than starts in April. We want to make sure they’re healthy for the stretch drive."