By all accounts, lefty Martin Perez was sailing along, throwing strikes, finally pitching with confidence.And then a line drive hit Perez in his left arm Sunday, knocking him out of action for at least two months.Broken bones youll have to trust me on this cant be hurried. He wont resume a throwing program until four weeks have passed and the bone in his left forearm heals, and then Perez likely will have to pitch his way back into shape at Triple A.It might be the cruelest news that the Texas Rangers hear all spring. Perez, after six years in the organization, appeared to be finally coming into his own.His first outing in Arizona had been impressive six Colorado hitters up, six down. The Rangers werent ready to hand Perez the No. 5 spot in the pitching rotation, but he had emerged as the arm to beat.And still, though it seems as if weve been talking about Perez since Elvis Andrus was in diapers, the Venezuela-born left-hander is only 21 years old.So whos the likely No. 5 starter now?The answer need not be as pressing as you might think. Between off days and fickle April weather, the Rangers may only need the No. 5 starter three times before May 1.Three starts. Thats hardly a reason to give up the teams No. 1 draft pick.In recent Rangers seasons, the club has left spring training with its No. 5 starters as Scott Feldman, Tommy Hunter, Rich Harden and Kason Gabbard.They got by. Isnt that the motto of any No. 5 starter?Yet no sooner had Perez left the X-ray machine last weekend than the national baseball columnists were dialing 1-800-BORAS. This, they assumed, was the injury opportunity that agent Scott Boras was waiting for for his unsigned client, pitcher Kyle Lohse.Boras has been telling teams and baseball writers all winter that free agent Lohse is the kind of pitcher who can impact a pennant race. He expected to get a deal for four years, Boras told people, with a big average annual value.Right. And I want a pony.If Lohse was such a difference-maker, why hasnt his former team, the St. Louis Cardinals, been burning up Boras cellphone?Lohses numbers, on the surface, are enticing. Over the last two complete seasons, he has pitched 399 innings, has a 3.11 ERA and a record of 30-11 for a team thats been to the postseason both times.The scouting reports suggest, however, that Lohse is not a pitcher where one size fits all. And Im not sure if pitch to contact is a good philosophy to embrace in a division with Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton and Yoenis Cespedes.Widely speculated, too, is that the enthusiasm for Lohse has been further dampened by the fact that clubs dont want to give up their first-round draft picks for the rights to sign him.For the record, Lohse himself was a 29th-round pick by the Cubs in the 1996 amateur draft.The Rangers would be surrendering the No. 24 choice overall in Junes first round. The last time the Rangers picked 24th, they selected pitcher Michael Main. His place in franchise history was secured when he was traded to San Francisco in the Bengie Molina deal. Main spent the 2012 season in the minor leagues.Maybe Lohse is worth a Michael Main-type player. Maybe he isnt.But unless Boras is offering blue-light, everything-must-go discounts, the Rangers cash (or prospects) would seem to be better spent on a pitcher with a more certain track record. And maybe in July, not April.For now, they can get by. Broken bones heal, the doctors tell me.By then, the Martin Perez story might be ready to pick up where it left off.
Gil LeBreton, 817-390-7697 Twitter: @gilebreton