Elbow discomfort shortens Ranaudo's start

Rotation candidate expects to take next turn

Elbow discomfort shortens Ranaudo's start

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Anthony Ranaudo's emerging bid to win a spot in the Rangers rotation hit a bump on Thursday, when he left his start against the White Sox with some right elbow discomfort.

But Ranaudo said it wasn't anything major and he expects to be ready for his next start. Ranaudo left the 7-3 victory with one out in the third, having thrown 44 pitches.

"I threw a curveball and I felt a little bit of a grab in the outside of the elbow," Ranaudo said. "I was already close to my pitch limit, so I came out of the game. But we did some further tests in [the training room] and I threw more on the [practice] field. It's nothing major."

Ranaudo allowed three runs in 2 1/3 innings. He gave up four hits, did not walk a batter and struck out two. The Rangers were expecting him to go three innings and 50 pitches, so he didn't miss his target by much.

"We'll always be conservative," manager Jeff Banister said. "He told [pitching coach Mike Maddux] he felt OK, but we didn't want to put him into a situation where he continued to pitch after he felt something. We feel confident in the reports, but I'm always guarded until he shows up the next day."

Ranaudo, who was acquired this winter from the Red Sox for pitcher Robbie Ross Jr., had made two previous appearances this spring and was making a quick positive impression. He pitched a scoreless inning in the intrasquad game and two scoreless against the Giants last Friday.

Ranaudo entered camp as a candidate for the fifth spot in the rotation, but there is now another opening. With Yu Darvish expected to miss the season because of Tommy John surgery, the Rangers are looking for two starters, and the competition is percolating quickly.

Rangers on Darvish's injury

Ranaudo is one candidate. Nick Tepesch is another, and he helped his candidacy by pitching 3 1/3 scoreless innings against the White Sox. It was a strong comeback after he allowed seven runs in 1 1/3 innings last Friday against the Giants.

"I had better command of all my pitches and made better pitches," Tepesch said. "It wasn't great, but it was definitely better than the last outing."

The Rangers are intrigued by the progress Tepesch has made with his sinker and with his offspeed pitches. Tepesch has tried to develop his changeup, but the return of an effective slow curve may be more encouraging. That could help Tepesch develop the velocity separation he needs between an offspeed pitch and his hard sinker/slider combo.

The Rangers play the Giants again on Friday in Scottsdale, and the rotation competition continues. Right-hander Nick Martinez is scheduled to start, wiith left-hander Ross Detwiler pitching behind him. It will be the second spring outing for both pitchers. Detwiler allowed one run in 2 2/3 innings in a 5-4 win over the Brewers on Saturday, while Martinez allowed a run in two innings in relief.

On Saturday, Ross Ohlendorf takes the mound. He announced his presence in the rotation competition last Sunday, when he pitched two scoreless innings in a 6-4 victory over the Cubs. He struck out five of the six batters he faced.

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.