When Martin Perez fractured the ulna bone in his left arm a couple of weeks ago, the race for the No. 5 starter gig out of Texas Rangers spring training took on a new light.
Perez was the unquestioned front runner for the job, at least until Colby Lewis gets healthy, but is now on the shelf until sometime in May. That opened the door for several other candidates. For much of the time since Perez went down, the favorite has seemed to be second-year pitcher Robbie Ross, who excelled in the bullpen last year as a rookie lefty.
But a dark horse candidate all along has been Randy Wells, who is battling back from injury and had his best outing of the spring on Thursday in a 6-2 win over the Oakland A's.
Wells, 30, has had a couple of good seasons with the Chicago Cubs with his best season coming in 2009 when he went 12-10 with a 3.05 ERA. On Thursday, he bounced back from perhaps his worst spring outing to fall one out shy of throwing five scoreless innings, finishing with five innings pitched and one run allowed on a two-out homer in the fifth.
"From the get go, I felt good," Wells told ESPN Dallas. "I was able to make a pitch when I needed to and it was nice to get out there, stretch it out and go five innings."
Now Wells has a couple of more weeks to try to secure the No. 5 job. Ross is without a doubt the best pitcher, but he might be too valuable in the bullpen to move. Wells must also beat out Justin Grimm and Nick Tepesch, while Derek Lowe will likely fit in as a reliever after joining camp late.