Two years ago, Robbie Ross burst onto the scene in Arlington when he made the big-league club out of spring training, pretty unexpectedly, and went on to become a valuable piece of the Texas Rangers' bullpen and one of the best middle relievers in all of baseball.
Last season proved to be much of the same for Ross, with the exception of one rough stretch around the all-star break.
Now, Ross is trying to be the latest Rangers reliever to convert to the starting rotation and follow in the footsteps of guys like C.J. Wilson, Alexi Ogando and Neftali Feliz.
To help himself prepare, Ross did something very few established big-leaguers to by going to play winter ball this year to help himself get prepared physically for spring training and also to work on getting out lefties, which is what his main job should be as a reliever even though he struggled against them last year.
"[It was] just experiencing being a starter again, just going out there and getting some innings logged in," Ross told ESPN Dallas. "Also just getting stretched out to the point of feeling like ‘Here we go’ right into the possibility of being a starter and stretching out innings wise. Also having those days of rest getting ready. It was definitely a good experience just getting to go there, kind of get the different innings under my belt."
Ross has posted a 2.62 ERA in 127 innings of work over his past two seasons, but the 24-year-old has his mind set on becoming a starter now, which is what he's always wanted. In the minor leagues, he was primarily a starter. The Rangers were already opening up the competition for their fifth starter, and then Derek Holland's injury added some more urgency to find some more starting pitching, not to mention the question mark of whether Matt Harrison will return to form in 2014.
"I’ve always wanted to be a starter," Ross said. "That’s been my goal ever since I was younger, and when I got into the big leagues it was like at some point I’d like to start. I like being in the big leagues. Definitely, if I could do I as a starter that would be great, but I also like it as a reliever."