Texas Rangers

With Gonzalez out, Gamboa gets start for Rangers

Eddie Gamboa will step in Sunday for Chi Chi Gonzalez, who is out with an elbow injury.
Eddie Gamboa will step in Sunday for Chi Chi Gonzalez, who is out with an elbow injury. mfaulkner@star-telegram.com

No player wants to benefit from a teammate's injury, but injuries create opportunities for others to break through.

That's baseball.

Chi Chi Gonzalez's elbow injury has removed him from the competition for the Texas Rangers' rotation and given knuckleballer Eddie Gamboa a chance to start a Cactus League game and try to convince the Texas Rangers that he belongs on the Opening Day roster.

The right-hander was to return to Rangers camp Saturday night after the conclusion of Big League Weekend and is scheduled to toss four innings Sunday against Seattle at Surprise Stadium.

He knows what's at stake.

"It's another opportunity," said Gamboa, who has a 3.38 ERA in eight spring innings. "It's what you're here for, to throw and get innings. It's what you want."

Gamboa and pitching coach Doug Brocail have been working on some mechanical tweaks designed to get him moving in a more direct line to the plate so that he throws more strikes.

Knuckleballs will dance as they near the plate, many times going out of the strike zone. The Rangers know that knuckleballers are going to give up hits, but they need to reduce walks and keep the ball in the ballpark.

"I'm feeling very well going into the season," said Gamboa, who allowed only one homer in 107 1/3 innings last season. "As long as we can do that, not so much throw strikes all the time, but have the ball going in a certain direction and hope for the best from there."

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