Alexi Ogando is pitching for his spot

July, 1, 2011
7/01/11
12:00
PM CT
The Rangers are not giving up on starter Alexi Ogando.

But it seems Friday night's start vs. the Florida Marlins might be his last outing before the All Star break unless he breaks out of this three-game slide he's been in.

He's scheduled to make one more start, but if he doesn't fare well here, then some decisions have to be made.

"I don't think I will have a problem," Ogando said through an interpreter on Thursday. "I was missing my spots and my locations that's what I was trying to fix in my bullpen sessions and that's where I think the problems are."

After a 7-0 start where talk developed he could make the All Star team, Ogando struggled. He's 0-3 with a 9.31 ERA in which he's given up 10 earned runs over 9 2/3 innings of work. He hasn't reached past the fifth inning in any of those starts.

With Scott Feldman and possibly Tommy Hunter working their way back from injuries down in rehab stints, Ogando's status seems tenuous.

"We'll obviously give him another start," team president Nolan Ryan said. "We know he can pitch out of the bullpen. He's been awfully important as a starter to us this year and predicting he would go back to the bullpen is premature. When those other guys get back, we'll see how those guys are performing, then we'll have some decisions to make."

Ogando has four pitches, four seam and two seam fastball, slider and changeup. Ogando was sticking with just two pitches, fastball and slider and not throwing hitters off with something soft.

"Nobody has asked me to do anything different," he said. "I rely on my fastball, two seamer and the other pitches."

The Rangers have confidence in Ogando's abilities because of what they've seen the first half of the year. Despite the struggles, he's still among the AL leaders in ERA (ninth at 2.87), opponents average (ninth at .217) and slugging percentage (seventh at .320). Right handers are hitting a major-league low .151 against him.

With all that, what's the problem?

*He's not hitting his spots inside the strike zone which keeps hitters from extending themselves to get good swings at the plate. "All pitchers should work inside as much as they possibly can," manager Ron Washington said.

*The heat. He needed an IV after a short outing vs. the Atlanta Braves last Sunday. The humidity got to him and he threw 103 pitches in just five innings of work. He gave up three runs, one earned, in that effort, so defense also hurt him.

*Hitters are making adjustments. As a first-year starter, Ogando was able to surprise opponents, but after a few starts, scouts were able to get a better report on him and now add in his mistakes, it's leading to some issues. Washington said Ogando is making adjustments on the mound.

The Rangers insist Ogando is not hurt or tired, in fact he said, "I don't feel pressure at all physcially. I feel good. I don't feel mentally or physically affected. Sometimes things aren't going the right way but nobody is perfect."
Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Colby Lewis
WINS ERA SO IP
10 5.18 133 170
OTHER LEADERS
BAA. Beltre .324
HRA. Beltre 19
RBIA. Beltre 77
RA. Beltre 79
OPSA. Beltre .879
ERAC. Lewis 5.18
SOY. Darvish 182