Nick Martinez didn’t expect to have a meeting with manager Ron Washington and other club officials Wednesday morning.
He had thrown two scoreless innings of relief in the “A” game Tuesday and had a pretty good camp on the minor league side. Martinez believed he would begin the season in Double A Frisco’s rotation, but instead found out he was going to the big leagues as the Rangers’ fifth starter.
“A little shocked at first, I couldn’t believe it,” Martinez said. “It still hasn’t set in. My family is going crazy back home, very happy for me. My dad might still be crying, and my grandmother was real happy.”
Martinez, a 23-year-old right-hander who has pitched in only five games (four starts) at the Double A level, is scheduled to make his big league debut against Tampa Bay on April 6. He is expected to only hold the spot down until Yu Darvish is ready to return.
Martinez is a finesse pitcher who is coming off a successful 2013 season in which he went a combined 12-7 with a 2.50 ERA over 27 games (25 starts) between High A Myrtle Beach and Double A Frisco.
The Rangers have consistently received positive reports on Martinez, an 18th-round draft pick in 2011, and believe he’s ready to make the jump.
“You talk to any of our development guys … who are the guys who could handle it? Who are the most prepared, most advanced? Nick was pretty regularly at the top of their minds,” general manager Jon Daniels said.
The Rangers will purchase Martinez’s contract before Opening Day, which will require a corresponding move to clear a spot on the 40-man roster.
Choice, Murphy earn jobs
As expected, Michael Choice will be the fourth outfielder and part-time designated hitter for the Rangers this season, Daniels said.
The UT Arlington and Mansfield Timberview product was impressive all spring, batting .361 with four home runs and 15 RBIs.
“I put in a lot of hard work to get to this point and I’m excited,” Choice said. “To make a 25-man roster is a huge accomplishment and probably one of the hardest things to do in the world.”
Somewhat unexpectedly, Daniels also said infielder Donnie Murphy will break camp with the team. The Rangers acquired Murphy on a waiver claim from the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday.
Bullpen taking shape
Left-hander Pedro Figueroa earned a spot in the Rangers’ bullpen, joining closer Joakim Soria, setup men Alexi Ogando and Neal Cotts, and middle reliever Jason Frasor.
Figueroa, 28, has had stints in the big leagues with the A’s the past two seasons and has thrown consistently enough this spring to win a job. He has a 3.86 ERA over six spring outings with six strikeouts and no walks and can be used for multiple innings.
The Rangers have two openings left in their bullpen. The candidates remaining are left-handers Michael Kirkman and Ryan Feierabend, and right-handers Shawn Tolleson, Daniel McCutchen and Seth Rosin, who was acquired on a waiver claim from the Dodgers on Wednesday.
Briefly• The Rangers were valued at $825 million by Forbes, the seventh-most valuable team in baseball. Five teams were valued in the billions, led by the New York Yankees at $2.5 billion. The Tampa Bay Rays were the least valuable at $485 million.
• Tickets are priced $20 for lower level and all-you-can-eat seats, $15 for club-level seats and $10 for upper-level seats for Thursday’s exhibition game against the Quintana Roo Tigers of the Mexican League at Globe Life Park. Prior to the game, Spanish broadcaster Eleno Ornelas will receive the 2014 Golden Microphone Award, the highest award given by the National Association of Mexico Broadcasters.
• Right-hander Scott Baker has agreed to a minor league contract with the Rangers and will be in their Triple A rotation. The deal is pending a physical.
• The Rangers cleared spots on the 40-man roster for Murphy and Rosin by giving Tommy Hanson his unconditional release and placing outfielder Engel Beltre (fractured right tibia) on the 60-day disabled list.