Impressive outing keeps Martinez in the mix

Impressive outing keeps Martinez in the mix

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Right-hander Nick Martinez may not have clinched a spot in the rotation, but he has certainly raised the bar high for those still in the competition.

That bar may have become unreachable after Martinez threw six scoreless innings in a 6-3 victory over the Rockies on Thursday night. Martinez is the first Rangers pitcher to go six innings this spring, and he did so on just 74 pitches.

"Nick threw the ball very well," manager Jeff Banister said. "He showed all four pitches, pounded the strike zone, had a five-pitch inning and a seven-pitch inning. He was effective with everything he threw. It was an impressive night for Nick."

Martinez allowed five hits, walked one and struck out four while lowering his spring ERA to 0.84. Opponents are hitting .243.

But as for cementing a spot in the rotation, Martinez passed on that.

"That's not up to me to decide," Martinez said. "I just go out there and compete every chance I get. I feel great. I'm executing my pitches, my arm feels great, mentally I feel sharp."

The competition is ongoing. Anthony Ranaudo, who pitches against the Athletics on Friday in Mesa, was slowed by some tightness in his right elbow earlier this spring, and this could be his last best chance to get back into the mix.

"Same thing we have talked about earlier -- fastball command," Banister said. "Be able to pound the strike zone. Got to be able to pitch down and pitch up, and use his secondary pitches when he needs to. It's not about swings and misses, it's about getting ahead in the count and getting early outs, and getting strikeouts when necessary."

Nick Tepesch, who will start against the Dodgers on Sunday in Glendale, has a 4.38 ERA in his last three outings and is also in the mix.

"Let's let everybody get through their starts," Banister said.

Ohlendorf exits with tightness: Ross Ohlendorf has pitched well this spring, but he can't stay healthy. That continues to jeopardize his chances of making the Opening Day roster even if the Rangers love what they are seeing from him.

On Thursday, in his first outing since March 15, Ohlendorf pitched a scoreless seventh in the Rangers' 6-3 win over the Rockies. He set down the side in order and struck out two.

But he had to leave the game because of recurring tightness in his right groin. It's the second time that has happened this spring.

"I felt it a little bit the last hitter," Ohlendorf said. "I didn't know if it was bad or not. It had been feeling a lot better. I felt it would be fine. I have been really happy with the way I've thrown. I know this will get better and I will have a good season. I am glad it is not my arm."

The Rangers will wait until Friday to see how Ohlendorf feels, as Dr. Keith Meister is due in camp.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for 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.