SURPRISE, Ariz. -- After Alexi Ogando's last start, both he and manager Ron Washington said they thought the right-hander was showing signs of improvement during his transition back into the rotation, even if the numbers didn't always show it.
On Sunday, the numbers showed it.
Ogando had his most effective outing of the spring, tossing six scoreless innings while scattering three hits, walking one and striking out five. The closest he came to being in trouble was when he had runners on first and second with two outs in the first inning. Otherwise, the righty was in command throughout the start and looked ready for the regular season.
"You work day-in and day-out and try to have the best results, and it was great to have this outing before the season starts," Ogando said. "It was one of the better ones I've had in spring training.
"There is always something you have to work on," he said. "Some details and little things, but I think I am ready now."
"He's gotten better every time," Washington said. "He finally got there. He did a good job today. He even commanded his fastball today. Every time he took the ball you could see the progress. He was getting better."
Ogando battled with command issues at times this spring, especially with his fastball, but those seem to have been rectified. If he can keep that pitch working, in addition to his deadly slider, then Ogando, along with ace Matt Harrison and Yu Darvish, will all be pitching their best heading into the final days of spring training.
Derek Holland will start in Peoria on Monday against the San Diego Padres in his first 'A' game appearance since returning from the World Baseball Classic. If the left-hander also puts out a good performance, then the only remaining question in the rotation during the final days of camp will be the identity of the fifth starter.
Technically, we don't know who the third or fourth starter is yet, but it will be a combination of Ogando and Holland. The Rangers are holding off on an official announcement, which carries additional importance as the No. 4 will start the home opener against the Los Angeles Angels on April 5.