When the Texas Rangers were in the midst of spring training, it seemed like a sure bet that young lefty Martin Perez, the Rangers' top pitching prospect, would earn the No. 5 starter job heading into the 2013 season.
Then a line drive collided with his forearm, breaking a bone in Perez's arm and putting him on the shelf for a couple of months while opening the door for Nick Tepesch to seize the fifth-starter job.
Now, Perez is finally getting his first crack at big-league action today as he'll take the hill in the first game of a split doubleheader in Arizona on Monday, making his 2013 debut.
Perez is coming off a superb outing in Round Rock last week when he needed just 77 pitches to work through seven innings while fanning seven with no walks and touching 97 mph on the radar gun, showing why he was once of the most highly touted pitching prospects in all of baseball before falling off a bit with some struggles in Arlington last year as a 21-year-old who probably really had no business being in the bigs.
The Rangers opted to give Perez, and his hot hand, the start on Monday instead of Ross Wolf, who got a win in his first big-league start on Wednesday afternoon against Oakland. Wolf worked in relief in the Rangers' 13-inning loss to the Mariners on Sunday.
The Rangers, most notably Ron Washington and pitching coach Mike Maddux, are hoping Perez makes them look smart with a good, strong outing today and that he can give the Rangers at least six innings after their bullpen was stressed in Sunday's marathon.