Detwiler ready to compete for fifth-starter spot

Tepesch, Martinez and Bonilla vying for job at end of Rangers' rotation

Detwiler ready to compete for fifth-starter spot

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers are going to give Ross Detwiler a chance to start in Spring Training. Detwiler, who was acquired from the Nationals in December, knows that he still has to win a job.

"Throughout my career I have had to win a job in Spring Training," Detwiler said after a workout at Globe Life Park on Wednesday. "Nothing is for sure. If I come in and throw well, I'll earn the job. If I don't throw well, I don't deserve the job. Nothing is going to be handed to me."

Right now Detwiler is positioned to be the fifth starter in a rotation that already includes Derek Holland, Yu Darvish, Yovani Gallardo and Colby Lewis. But Nick Tepesch, Nick Martinez and Lisalverto Bonilla could push him and create some serious fifth-starter competition in Spring Training.

"There is definitely a spot open," pitching coach Mike Maddux said. "You have to seize the opportunity. Nobody is given a job and once you earn a job, you still have to earn the right to stay here."

Martinez was second on the Rangers in starts last season and Tepesch was fourth. They were strong candidates for the rotation right up until the Rangers acquired Gallardo earlier in the week. Now they have to win a job.

Martinez's strong perfomance

"In this game, a lot of things can happen, so I try not to worry about it," Tepesch said. "I'm just worried about getting my arm in shape and reporting to Spring Training healthy. I don't like to look too far in the future. It only makes it tougher."

Tepesch finished the season strong, going 2-4 with a 3.81 ERA in his last 10 starts. But there is more work to do.

Over the past two seasons, there have been 60 pitchers who have started at least 25 games and pitched at least 200 innings in the American League. From that group, Tepesch's 5.42 strikeouts per nine innings are the fourth lowest and his 12.86 baserunners were the 12th highest.

Tepesch dominates Angels

The Rangers sent Tepesch into the offseason with a mandate to shorten his delivery for better command and work on the elusive changeup to give him another out-pitch. Maddux watched Tepesch throw at Wednesday's mini-camp and detected improvement.

"He is getting the ball down more and his changeup is good," Maddux said.

Martinez has the luxury of being a starter or a reliever. He did both last year and Maddux said he could fill the role of a utility pitcher. Scott Baker was invaluable for the Rangers in that role last year.

"I feel I can bring a lot to the table," Martinez said. "I'm ready for whatever. We've still got a month to go and all of Spring Training. You never know what can happen."

Bonilla emerged late last year, going 3-0 with a 2.12 ERA in three September starts. He appears to be a long shot for the rotation, but there is still at least one spot unsettled.

Bonilla's scoreless start

Worth noting:
Matt Harrison was at the Rangers mini-camp on Wednesday and played catch from 75 feet. Harrison is still trying to recover from two years of back surgery and will be brought along slowly. Harrison, who had spinal fusion surgery last year, admitted that another setback could force him to retire.

Mitch Moreland, who had surgery on his left ankle last summer, said he is feeling better than he has in a few years. Moreland is taking batting practice and should be at full strength in Spring Training.

• Darvish also played catch on Wednesday and Maddux said his arm looked "fantastic." Darvish is expected to begin throwing off a mound on Feb. 2.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.