Perez Sets His Sights On Rangers' Rotation
can talk and talk when given the chance, but he
didn't mince words during the Rangers' annual winter pitching camp at
Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
"This is a big year for me," the lefthander said.
Perez is fully aware of what is ahead for him this season. A good spring
camp will likely result in him winning the fifth and final spot in
Texas' rotation, at least until veteran Colby Lewis
surgery) is ready to return in May or June.
Any struggles, though, could have him headed back to the minor leagues.
"I don't want to be in Triple-A or Double-A anymore," Perez said. "I want to stay here."
The Rangers' top pitching prospect finished 2012 on the big league
roster and was their fifth starter down the stretch. He suffered two
losses during the Rangers' end-of-season tailspin after going 7-6, 4.25
in 127 innings with Triple-A Round Rock.
The 6-foot-1, 175-pound southpaw learned that he can't elevate his
pitches and has to have better command than he did in September. Perez,
22 this season, has spent the offseason in Venezuela tightening up his
mechanics and working on his slider and sinker to regain the confidence
of the Rangers' coaching staff.
"I just want to work my hardest," said Perez, who went 1-4, 5.45 over
his first 38 big league innings. "They told me this is my opportunity,
and I need to take advantage of it."
Righthander Justin Grimm
, lefthander Robbie Ross
and veteran righty Kyle
are among the others competing for the final rotation spot.
Pitching coach Mike Maddux said there's no frontrunner, but the Rangers
want Perez reach his potential.
He showed them glimpses of it last year.
"When Martin first came up, he really impressed us," Maddux said. "He
kept everything down. The more he threw, the hitters did a better job of
elevating him and took that low pitch. As time wore on, his
inexperience showed up. But there's no problem with that because
everybody goes through it."
• Shortstop Jurickson Profar
and third baseman Mike Olt
likely will open
the season at Triple-A Round Rock. Ian Kinsler
will stay at second
base, limiting Profar's chances to make the roster. Mitch Moreland
expected to play first base and Lance Berkman
will be at DH, spots Olt
could have filled.
• The Rangers didn't stand in the way of Profar playing in the World
Baseball Classic for the Netherlands, nor did they restrict outfielder
(Spain) or second baseman Nick Urbanus
Profar is from Curacao, which is a Dutch colony. Beltre is from the
Dominican Republic but has Spanish ancestry.