ARLINGTON, Texas -- Texas Rangers starter Martin Perez watched as pitcher after pitcher struggled to do much of anything in Monday's 14-10 Philadelphia Phillies win. Tanner Scheppers couldn't get his fastball down and had difficulty finding the strike zone. And the group of hurlers that followed him wasn’t much better.
Perez took notice.
"I have to attack the zone," Perez said. "That's what didn't happen today. I need to go out and pitch with conviction and hit my spots. That means attacking hitters."
Yes, it does.
Walks got Scheppers in trouble in the second inning as the Phillies scored six runs in the frame. That's something Perez struggled with, too, before mentally and physically getting past it in 2013. In his limited time with the big club in 2012, Perez had 15 walks in 38 innings. He had too many walks for a few years in the minors, too. That all changed last year.
He didn't worry so much about painting corners. He threw his pitches and attacked. He walked 37 batters in 124 1/3 innings, by far the best ratio of his professional career.
"I'm excited to have this chance and that they want me to pitch the second game," Perez said. "I'm ready."
Ogando still struggling: Turns out going from the starting rotation to the bullpen didn't cure what was ailing Alexi Ogando this spring. The right-hander gave up two runs on three hits with two walks and three strikeouts in his 1 1/3 innings of work. He came into Monday's game with two outs and one on after Marlon Byrd hit a home run off Pedro Figueroa and Domonic Brown followed that with a single, but Ogando couldn't end the inning there. He walked Carlos Ruiz, gave up an RBI single to Cody Asche and then issued a walk to John Mayberry Jr. and a run-scoring single to Ben Revere before getting the third out on a Jimmy Rollins grounder. That gave the Phillies a 13-8 advantage halfway through the sixth.
It was just a few years ago that Ogando was a true weapon in the bullpen. He could pitch multiple innings and made life extremely difficult on batters seeing him late in games. But this spring was a struggle with his command and that carried over, for at least one game, into the regular season. It will be interesting to see how he's used and how he responds. But if Ogando can't be counted on as one of the club's setup men with Scheppers in the rotation, that's going to impact the entire bullpen in a big way. Stay tuned.
And as we discussed yesterday on twitter (@espn_durrett), if Ogando doesn't struggle this spring and the injuries don't mount, perhaps Robbie Ross is in the game instead of Figueroa and things are different.
Encouraging for Martin: After a rocky start to the spring, Leonys Martin has picked up his play the past few weeks. He credits work in the cages with hitting coach Dave Magadan and nearly 20 at-bats he got in minor league games late in spring.
"Those helped me," Martin said.
He was 2-for-4 on Monday with two RBIs. He had just six games with multiple hits and RBIs in 2013. Martin seized the center field job last year, but didn't come into spring swinging the bat well. The past few weeks have him more confident as the season gets going.