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Rangers' Eaton out at least a month

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Adam Eaton could be out of the Texas Rangers' rotation at least a month with a strained tendon in the middle finger on his pitching hand, the same injury that sidelined him last season.

"I'd be happy if someone said he could come back by May 1,"
manager Buck Showalter said Thursday. "The trouble is, there is
nothing in baseball to compare this injury to."

Showalter said team physician Dr. Keith Meister told him rock climbers are the only people who get the kind of injury Eaton suffered while throwing a curveball against his former team, San
Diego, in the second inning of a spring training game Wednesday.

After meeting with hand specialist Dr. Don Sheridan, Eaton said
he might miss up to three months. If he ends up having surgery, the
28-year-old right-hander said he could miss most of the season.

"I still haven't been able to find a baseball player who has
had this," Eaton said. "You think about elbows, shoulders,
ankles, knees, but this is definitely a different thing."

An MRI was taken Wednesday, but Showalter said doctors wanted to
compare it with others they have in Arlington before making final
judgments.

"This could be long-term, but it could be a three-week thing,"
Showalter said. "I'm still hoping for the best."

Eaton, who had been scheduled to start the Rangers' second game
of the season against Boston, planned to travel with the team later
Thursday as it returned to Texas. The Rangers play an exhibition
game against Florida on Friday in the Dallas suburb of Frisco,
where their Double-A affiliate is located.

"We're still talking about what we should do at this point, but
I can tell you every possible option has been considered,"
Showalter said. "We've talked about using a four-man rotation. I
wouldn't rule out anything."

The Rangers picked knuckleballer R.A. Dickey for the fifth spot in a rotation that was to feature Kevin Millwood, Eaton, Vicente Padilla and Kameron Loe.

"I could pitch the second game if they want me to," Dickey
said. "With the knuckleball, I could come back and pitch game
five, too."

Before initially injuring the finger last June 15 in his first loss in two months and shortest start all season, Eaton was 9-1 with a 3.18 ERA for San Diego. He went on the disabled list twice after that, was 2-4 in his last nine starts and didn't pitch for the Padres in a three-game playoff loss to St. Louis.

Eaton came to the Rangers in a six-player trade with San Diego
during the offseason.