ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 24: Alexi Ogando #41 of the Texas Rangers pitches in the seventh inning during Game Five of the MLB World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on October 24, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Back in 2011, Alexi Ogando was thrust into the Texas Rangers' starting rotation on a whim when Tommy Hunter hurt his groin near the end of spring training.
The then-second-year pitcher went on to earn an all-star berth as a starter before hitting an innings wall late in the season, struggling and moving back to the bullpen for the World Series run.
Ogando has prepared since the winter to be a starter heading into the 2013 season and this spring has struggled to find his command and master a third pitch (a changeup) to go with his lethal fastball-slider combination.
On Sunday, however, Ogando had his best outing of the spring against the Cincinnati Reds, and it came at a good time — a little less than two weeks before he'll be scheduled to make his first start of the season against the Los Angeles Angels in the Rangers' home opener on April 5 (assuming he's the No. 4 starter).
Ogando worked six scoreless innings on Sunday against the Reds, striking out five and scattering three hits. The only remotely troublesome situation he ran into came in the first inning when he faced runners at first and second with two outs.
Sunday's outing was a thing of beauty for the Rangers to see after Ogando had struggled throughout the spring, but Sunday was a good sign moving forward against a good Reds lineup.
"You work day-in and day-out and try to have the best results, and it was great to have this outing before the season starts," Ogando told ESPN Dallas. "It was one of the better ones I've had in spring training.
"There is always something you have to work on. Some details and little things, but I think I am ready now."
It's unknown whether Ogando will be the club's No. 3 or No. 4 starter, but he'll be one and Derek Holland will be the other. You'd have to think Holland is probably the favorite to land the No. 3 gig, at least for now.