ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 26: Martin Perez #33 of the Texas Rangers throws against the Oakland Athletics at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on September 26, 2012 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
OK, so it's spring training. That doesn't mean anything, right?
OK, so it's not only spring training, it's an intrasquad game in spring training. That definitely doesn't mean anything, right?
Well, the correct answer to both of those questions to the casual observer is "no," but to Texas Rangers pitcher Martin Perez, Wednesday's spring debut against live hitters might have been a big boost moving forward.
The 21-year-old lefty has long been one of the Rangers' top prospects and got his first taste of the majors last season when he had some success, and some massive failure when he took Derek Holland's spot in the rotation in the middle of the summer when Holland went on the disabled list.
In his limited action as a starter and reliever, Perez went 1-4 with a 5.45 ERA last season as the team seemed to lose some faith in him, and rightfully so. But now he's got to be the club's quiet favorite to seize the No. 5 job. For one, he's a huge prospect who needs to pan out, and on top of that, the Rangers probably would rather keep Robbie Ross in the bullpen if that's possible.
In Wednesday's intrasquad scrimmage, Perez put his name on the radar for the No. 5 pitcher job in a big way, throwing one inning and needing just nine pitches — all strikes — to retire the side.
"When I came here, I said, 'OK, what is my goal this year?'" Perez told ESPN Dallas. "I've got one: Stay in the big leagues. I'm working hard every day to learn something to help me and the team. When they give me an opportunity, I want to do my job."
So yes, it was only spring training, and it was only an intrasquad scrimmage, a glorified practice, really.
But even still, Perez did his job and can use Wednesday's outing as a jumping-off point for the rest of the spring.