Tepesch bolstering repertoire this spring with slow curve

Texas righty improving offspeed pitches, but manager says fastball command an issue

Tepesch bolstering repertoire this spring with slow curve

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers starter Nick Tepesch gave up a home run to Albert Pujols off a hanging breaking ball Tuesday afternoon.

There was some irony in that because Tepesch's offspeed pitches, especially a slow curve, have made significant improvement this spring.

If he can fine-tune his fastball command, he may be turning into the complete pitcher the Rangers have been trying to develop over the past two years.

"There's no doubt he could be a more complete pitcher," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said after a 15-8 victory over the Angels on Tuesday.

Tepesch strikes out Rutledge

On a day when the two teams combined for 23 runs on 30 hits, Tepesch allowed three runs in five innings. The Angels had four hits and a walk off him, and he got through the outing in 67 pitches.

"I felt like I had pretty good command the whole game," Tepesch said. "One inning I fell behind guys, but for most of the game I was getting ahead with all my pitches. I felt it was a pretty good outing."

Tepesch has been trying to find a good offspeed pitch to go with his sinking fastball, and the slow curve he has been showing this spring has been the most promising option.

"I feel like I'm getting better command of it," Tepesch said. "I definitely feel I have made a lot of progress this spring."

Tepesch fans Carson in 7th

Tepesch ran into trouble as Erick Aybar led off the game with a single and scored on a triple by Mike Trout. Pujol's sacrifice fly brought home another run. But Tepesch retired 14 of the next 17 batters he faced.

"In the first inning, he made a couple of pitches up in the zone," Banister said. "After the first inning, he got the ball down when he needed to and put it inside when he needed to. His secondary pitches showed up well. He just needs to sharpen up his fastball command. I'd like to see the ball down in the zone and get more run."

Worth noting

• Banister on Prince Fielder's second-inning bunt for a hit: "Prince is a power hitter. He showed a tool in the tool box if he feels he needs it. He is a smart enough baseball player to understand where he is at. I feel confident he understands that he is a power hitter."

Fielder's bunt single to third

Mitch Moreland was 1-for-5 and Shin-Soo Choo was 0-for-5 in Minor League games Tuesday.

Rougned Odor was 3-for-3 on Tuesday and has 13 hits in his past 25 at-bats. Elvis Andrus, who hit his first home run this spring, is batting .440 (11-for-25) in Cactus League action.

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.