Texas Rangers' Willie Calhoun likely to start season on injured list

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Texas Rangers outfielder Willie Calhoun likely will start the regular season on the injured list because of a lingering groin injury.

General manager Chris Young said Calhoun, who hasn't played in a spring training game since March 8, has a low-grade groin strain.

"We anticipate at this point that we're going to need a couple of weeks to really let that calm down," Young said Tuesday. "We've anticipated having Willie ready. But at this point given the soreness that still exists, I think we're better off getting him right before sending him into competition."

Rangers manager Chris Woodward later announced right-hander Kyle Gibson will be the starting pitcher in the season opener April 1 at Kansas City. It will be the first Opening Day start for Gibson.

Calhoun was limited to 29 games during the shortened 2020 regular season because of a hamstring injury. That was after he had recovered from a broken jaw suffered when he was hit in the face by a fastball during a spring training game last March, though he was recovered from that when the season started in late July.

The left-handed hitter was competing to be the designated hitter or the team's left fielder.

Gibson struggled in the shortened 2020 season, going 2-6 with a 5.35 ERA in his 12 starts. This is Gibson's second season with Texas and his ninth in the big leagues. He was 13-7 for Minnesota in 2019 before signing as a free agent with the Rangers.

Woodward told Gibson on Tuesday about the Opening Day assignment, which had been expected for some time.

"That was a cool moment," the third-year Rangers manager said. "That's three years in a row, I guess for me personally, that I get to hand the ball to a guy that's never started Opening Day, which is surprising because Mike Minor, Lance Lynn and Kyle Gibson have a pretty big careers up to this point. To be able to have the honor to do that was pretty special. I know Gibby was pretty excited."

Minor was traded to Oakland at the deadline last Aug. 31, and Lynn was traded to the Chicago White Sox during the offseason. Corey Kluber, the two-time American League Cy Young winner who threw only one inning in his only start for Texas, left as a free agent.