Reaction: Robbie Ross learning lessons

March, 27, 2012
3/27/12
6:27
PM CT
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Texas Rangers reliever Robbie Ross said Tuesday was another learning experience for him.

The 22-year-old lefty is vying for a spot in the big league bullpen. And with Neftali Feliz and Colby Lewis starting in minor league games Tuesday night, Ross got the chance to start the afternoon affair against the San Diego Padres, which the Rangers won 10-9 on a passed ball in the bottom of the ninth.

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Ross gave up two runs on four hits with a walk and a strikeout in two innings of work. He gave up a home run to Jeremy Hermida on a 3-2 pitch in the first to give the Padres an early lead. They scored another a few batters later that inning.

"I was up just a little bit," Ross said. "I got behind on batter a few times. I hit my spots OK, but I think I could have attacked the guy that hit the home run better than I did. I kind of pitched around him and nit-picked a little bit."

Ross wasn't happy that he got ahead to Hermida 0-2 and then threw three straight balls before Hermida blasted a fastball that was meant to come inside that instead ended up in the middle of the plate.

"It was frustrating, but you learn from it," Ross said. "I'll find things that I should have done or could have done. But I felt good overall."

Ross made a nice fielding play to end the second. Chris Denorfia hit a line drive and Ross snagged it with his glove. Torii Hunter hit one similar to it on Sunday in Tempe and Ross just got out of the way. Rangers consultant Greg Maddux took notice and on Monday peppered Ross with six straight line drives, making him catch the ball.

"He was hitting them at me, so this time I was like, 'Oh, that's what we worked on,'" Ross said. "It was kind of nice knowing I could stick in there with that."

Ross was also able to take something from giving up a leadoff double in the second inning and then getting three straight outs to get out of the jam.

If Ross makes the 'pen, he has to get left-handed hitters out. He faced five of them Tuesday and gave up a homer, a double, a walk and got a strikeout and a ground ball out.

Missing inside: Reliever Yoshinori Tateyama didn't have it Tuesday. He gave up four runs in two innings and said that he wasn't able to throw the ball inside as much as he wanted in part because the Padres were able to get to his stuff on the outside part of the plate. But Tateyama's velocity was also down. And he surrendered three homers in those two innings (Hermida, Jedd Gyorko and Andy Parrino).

"In spring, every pitcher goes through a time when the velocity isn't there," Tateyama said. "Still, I have to get outs and pitch with what I've got."

Hernandez gets more time: Luis Hernandez took advantage of the absence of Elvis Andrus, who left after the second inning with a tight right hip flexor. He had a single in his first at-bat in the third and scored a run. And he made a terrific play in the field in the fourth, diving toward the second-base bag, gloving a grounder and then flipping it to Ian Kinsler at second to start a double play to end the inning. Hernandez also had a sacrifice fly in the sixth. He did make an errant throw late, rushing one to first. The Rangers bailed him out by scoring in the bottom of the ninth.

As it stands now, Alberto Gonzalez and Hernandez are fighting for the utility infield spot. Both can play shortstop, one of the requirements of the job.

Dual dingers: Mike Napoli, playing first base, hit two home runs. It was the first two long balls he's hit this spring. Napoli belted a 3-2 fastball to left field in the second and a 1-2 slider to left in the fourth. Napoli had six home runs on 3-2 counts in 2011. Only Jose Bautista had more in the AL with eight. Napoli also had 14 RBIs on 3-2 counts in 2011, tied for sixth-most in the AL (Bautista had 20).

Aggressive running: Ian Kinsler never hestitated in going from first to third in the third inning despite the fact that outfielder Jesus Guzman got to a Luis Hernandez single quickly in shallow left field. The throw to third was offline and Hernandez alertly sprinted to second. Kinsler scored on Adrian Beltre's grounder to third. Padres third baseman Jedd Gyorko looked the runner back, but not long enough as Kinsler then sprinted home and got there without a throw from first base.

Avoiding flying bats: San Diego starter Corey Luebke just barely got out of the way of a flying broken bat in the third. Nelson Cruz's ground ball to short broke his bat, sending part of it like a helicopter blade toward the mound. Luebke ducked out of the way.

More offense: After not scoring runs at its usual clip, Texas has started to swing the bats better as a team the past two games. The regulars scored 12 runs in three innings (second, third and fourth) Monday and added eight more through six innings Tuesday.

Koji works out of jam: Koji Uehara pleased Washington with his ability to work out of a jam in the seventh. He put the first two batters on -- a single and a walk -- and then got two strikeouts and a ground ball to end the inning. "The splitter was working today," Washington said.

Odds and ends: Josh Hamilton struck out in his first three at-bats -- all swinging. ...Craig Gentry came in to the game late and made a nice throw on a sacrifice fly in the ninth. He wasn't able to get the runner, but he made it interesting.
Richard Durrett joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He writes about colleges, the Dallas Stars and the Texas Rangers. Richard spent nine years at The Dallas Morning News covering the Rangers, Stars, colleges, motorsports and high schools.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Pedro Figueroa
WINS ERA SO IP
2 4.50 2 8
OTHER LEADERS
BAE. Andrus .302
HRE. Andrus 1
RBIA. Rios 7
RE. Andrus 9
OPSS. Choo .830
ERAY. Darvish 0.82
SOY. Darvish 23