It's hard to imagine both Tanner Scheppers and Robbie Ross entering the 2014 season as pieces of the Texas Rangers' starting rotation in a little more than a week. But it's almost certain that at least one of them will be in the rotation after serving as key pieces of the team's bullpen, which has been one of the best bullpens in baseball in recent seasons.
On Thursday, a day before Scheppers was set to make his final case for the rotation, Ross turned in his best outing of the spring and became the first Rangers starter to make it into the sixth inning this spring as the lefty worked 5 2/3 innings against the Cincinnati Reds. He allowed five people to reach base and gave up two runs, thanks in part to some bad defense behind him.
“I want to be in the big leagues, but I’d love to be a starter,” said Ross, who has 123 career major league relief appearances. “I love that feeling of getting out there like I did today.”
Ross needed 75 pitches to navigate his way to being one out shy of working six innings. So far this spring, Ross has a 1.88 ERA in 14 1/3 innings of work, which include two starts in his four appearances. He has just two walks in those innings.
“I’m just going right at them,” Ross said. “I know that we have a team behind me that can make plays. I’m trying not to put that pressure on myself.”