Each spring, it seems, a player enters Texas Rangers spring training with no chance to make the Opening Day roster but either puts himself in a position to make the team or is standing on the first-base line at Globe Life Park.
Outfielder Destin Hood put himself in the conversation last season before missing out. Mason Tobin, Robbie Ross, Nick Tepesch and Leury Garcia have come in as long shots in past springs.
Left-hander Brett Martin could be on the verge of joining them.
Martin, who struggled last season at Double A Frisco and came to camp as an afterthought, tossed 2 1/3 scoreless innings Monday night against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
From where he was last season, which he opened as a starter before transitioning to the bullpen, he rates as the biggest surprise of the spring and is in a dead heat with two other lefties to win a spot in the bullpen.
“I’ve surprised myself,” Martin said. “I’ve been coming in here day in and day out with my head down just getting my work in, doing what I need to do. I’ve just got to stay healthy and stay consistent.”
He escaped a jam in the fifth, his second inning, with Dodgers at second and third with one out. He struck out former Keller High star Max Muncy and got Enrique Hernandez to fly to shallow right field.
Martin allowed two hits in relief of starter Mike Minor and struck out three to preserve his 0.00 spring ERA.
“I was excited to get him against that lineup,” manager Chris Woodward said. “They have some good hitters that don’t give in.”
Martin, who has allowed four unearned runs, is competing for the roster with Jeffrey Springs and Kyle Bird. Springs has the most experience of the group, a two months in the majors, and Bird pitched last season at Triple A.
All three lefties are on the 40-man roster, but Martin has distinguished himself most this spring.
He’s got a chance.
“Somebody’s still interested at least,” he said. “It’s definitely a good feeling. I was talking to someone a couple days ago, I had just started to realize what’s going on. It’s like, ‘I’m still here and I’ve got a shot at trying to win a job here. I’m just trying to keep that in mind but still have fun.”