Texas Rangers

Rangers’ Martin Perez sharp in spring ‘B’ game debut

Rangers starting pitcher Martin Perez tossed three scoreless innings Sunday morning against the Chicago White Sox in a “B” game in Surprise, Ariz.
Rangers starting pitcher Martin Perez tossed three scoreless innings Sunday morning against the Chicago White Sox in a “B” game in Surprise, Ariz. mfaulkner@star-telegram.com

Texas Rangers left-hander Martin Perez threw three scoreless innings Sunday in a “B” game against the Chicago White Sox.

Perez was elated with his first action of the spring after holding the White Sox to two hits (one infield single), a walk and a hit batter over 38 pitches (23 strikes).

“I feel good, happy to have a pretty good outing,” he said. “I had good command, ball was down. I’m just trying to get more comfortable on the mound, and I think my fastball was consistent.”

More importantly, Perez said, his arm felt good. Perez returned last summer after having Tommy John surgery in May 2014.

He added seven curveballs and three or four sliders to his fastball-changeup mix. His slider still needs some work, but he was pleasantly surprised by his curve.

“It was exciting and impressive how good my curveball was today,” he said.

“I’m not a guy who is going to strike out everybody. I just want to put the ball where I want it and get the ground ball when I need it, and I did that today.”

The addition of an effective curve, Perez hopes, will help make his other pitches harder to read.

“Everyone knows I have a good changeup and a two-seam fastball,” he said. “It’s different facing a guy with four pitches. I know I can throw a changeup in any situation, but I want to focus more on my slider and curve.”

Almost two years removed from surgery, Perez is feeling confident on the mound.

“I feel healthy, happy to see everything you do in the off-season be put into play now,” he said. “Feel strong, I don’t feel tired.”

‘A’ for Ruggiano

Outfielder Justin Ruggiano played eight innings at first base in the “B” game against the White Sox. He fielded two grounders and looked relatively smooth considering it was his first game at the position in his life.

“It’s kind of fun, actually,” said Ruggiano, who had a single in four at-bats. “It’s exhausting compared with the outfield because you have to be ready for everything and know where to go on every play.”

He enjoyed himself but would prefer to get another “B” game before taking the position in a spring game.

“It was entertaining,” he said. “There are some things I’ll have to work on, just getting comfortable around the base, taking throws. It’s nice to get a game under your belt. That’s a start.”

Tepesch’s start

Right-hander Nick Tepesch started the “A” game against the Mariners and struggled with his command. He allowed three earned runs in two innings on four hits and two walks, including one to former Rangers outfielder Leonys Martin.

The Mariners stole six bases in the game, including four in two innings with Tepesch pitching to Chris Gimenez.

“I was trying to mix my looks up and hold the ball, but I guess I wasn’t doing a very good job with that,” Tepesch said. “I was falling behind a lot of guys ... it’s hard to be successful when you’re constantly falling behind and trying to get back into counts.”

Tepesch is hoping to compete for the fifth starting spot, but the competition is fierce with Nick Martinez, Chi Chi Gonzalez and A.J. Griffin, among others, all vying for the job.

“It’s about being better each time you go out there,” he said. “But at the same time ... at some point I’ve got to start worrying about the results a little more, too.”

Griffin appearance

Right-hander Griffin pitched a perfect inning against the Mariners on Sunday, his first appearance of the spring.

Free-throw tourney

Shin-Soo Choo dressed as former NBA All-Star Yao Ming — complete with a Rockets uniform, shoes and a headband — for the team’s free-throw tournament Sunday morning.

“It was classic,” manager Jeff Banister said.

Sunday’s results in the best-of-five free-throw-shooting contest: Connor Sadzeck beat Ike Davis; Gimenez beat Choo; Ian Desmond beat Cole Hamels; and Justin Ruggiano beat Scott Williams.

Guthrie, Tolleson improve

Jeremy Guthrie (lower back stiffness) has been cleared and is tentatively scheduled to pitch an inning on Tuesday. Shawn Tolleson (back spasms) played catch Sunday morning.

Stefan Stevenson: 817-390-7760, @StevensonFWST

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