Texas Rangers

Nick Martinez back to minors as Rangers’ pitching shuffle continues

The bell tolled Sunday morning for right-hander Nick Martinez, who was optioned to Double A Frisco fewer than 12 hours after pitching well but taking a no-decision in his major-league debut.

The move wasn’t at all unexpected, as the Texas Rangers needed a roster spot for Yu Darvish to come off the disabled list and start the series finale against Tampa Bay.

Even with left-hander Joe Saunders dealing with a bruised left ankle and dealing uninspiring results since joining the team in early March, the Rangers stuck with their decision to send out Martinez despite him allowing three runs in six innings Saturday.

“This was something we had already planned out,” manager Ron Washington said.

But that didn’t stop Washington from meeting with Saunders and pitching coach Mike Maddux as the Rangers weigh their options.

Colby Lewis is an option for Friday or Saturday after logging another start Sunday for Triple A Round Rock.

The Rangers have an off day Thursday that could allow them to skip Saunders, pitch Darvish on regular rest Friday and Lewis on Saturday. Lewis will need a spot on the 40-man and 25-man rosters, which could be accomplished by designating Saunders for assignment.

“We could redo some stuff, but we’ve got to play it by ear,” Washington said.

Martinez will pitch Thursday or Friday for Frisco, though he admitted that he was clinging to some hope that he would stick. He went through his normal day-after routine before heading to the airport, and he leaves with fond memories of his debut before a large gathering of family and friends.

He also received some encouraging parting words.

“Wash was happy with me and said I’ll be back up here. It was nice to hear that and very encouraging,” Martinez said. “I had a blast. It was a great learning experience. You couldn’t ask for more. I had an amazing time.”

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