Thearon W. Henderson
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JUNE 09: Robbie Ross #46 of the Texas Rangers pitches in the six inning against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on June 9, 2012 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
When Martin Perez fractured his pitching arm on Sunday, the race for the No. 5 starter spot in the Texas Rangers' rotation took on a whole new light.
And so far, if the Rangers are going to fill the role internally, it looks as though reliever Robbie Ross is now the frontrunner with Perez on the shelf for at least two months. Ross strengthened his case to be the fifth starter, at least temporarily with Colby Lewis ahead of schedule and set to be back as early as May, with his first start of the spring on Wednesday against the Chicago Cubs.
The 23-year-old lefty, who was a pleasant surprise in the Rangers' bullpen last season, worked a spring-high four innings, allowing one run on four hits with a strikeout. He did allow his second home run of the spring after surrendering just three in 65 innings of work last season, but other than that he was efficient and a groundball machine, which always plays well in Rangers Ballpark.
In fact, seven of his 12 outs were on infield grounders and he induced one double play.
"The first inning, obviously that home run, I could have done without that," Ross told ESPN Dallas. "After that, I settled down and just tried to throw strikes."
Moving Ross to the rotation would thin out an already questionable bullpen with Alexi Ogando also moving back to the rotation, but it would likely only be temporary with Lewis set to be back soon and Perez set to be back around the same time.
But maybe Ross has always been destined to be a big-league starter. In four minor league seasons, he did post a 2.88 ERA in 68 starts, so you never know.