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Sunday, January 15, 2012
Alexi Ogando busy preparing to start

By Richard Durrett

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Rangers pitcher Alexi Ogando wants to start in 2012 and is preparing to do so. But he knows that if the Rangers sign Yu Darvish and the rest of the rotation stays healthy that someone will have to move to the bullpen. And with how he pitched in relief at times down the stretch and in the ALDS and ALCS, Ogando is a natural candidate. But he says he isn't worried about that right now.

"That is something that is out of my control," Ogando said Sunday through a translator after signing autographs at Texas Rangers FanFest. "I don't think too much about it. I know I'll be ready to be a starter and if they make a different decision, I'll be ready. Of course, I want to be a starter and that's what I'm working on."

Ogando said that he's started his workouts sooner this offseason, knowing he has to come to spring stretched out to start. Last spring, he came in with the mindset that he was relieving. He moved to the rotation when Tommy Hunter strained his groin near the end of spring training.

Ogando was an All-Star thanks to a tremendous first half of 2011. He was 9-3 with a 2.92 ERA in 17 starts (104 2/3 innings) with 78 strikeouts and 23 walks prior to the All-Star break. Opponents batted just .213 against him. But in the second half, Ogando was 4-5 with a 4.48 ERA in 14 games, 12 of them starts (64 1/3 innings).

He went into the playoffs as a key member of the bullpen and was nearly unhitable in the ALDS. He pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings (three appearances in the four-game series) with one hit allowed, two strikeouts and no walks. Ogando continued to pitch well in the ALCS, giving up one run on three hits in 7 2/3 innings (four appearances) for a 1.17 ERA. But he appeared to get fatigued in the World Series, as David Freese began his MVP performance with a couple of big hits off Ogando early in the series. In six appearances, Ogando had a 10.13 ERA (three earned runs in 2 2/3 innings) with seven walks and three strikeouts.

Ogando said after the season, he knew he needed to relax and take a break.

"Everybody gets tired, but from my experience with what happened last year, I'm getting ready and I think I'll be able to work the whole season without any problems," Ogando said.