Texas Rangers: Robbie Parker

Nick Tepesch ascending to No. 5 spot

March, 22, 2013
3/22/13
1:31
PM CT
SURPRISE, Ariz.--The number of candidates for the Rangers No. 5 starter job was reduced by two Friday morning, as RHP Justin Grimm was optioned to Round Rock (AAA) and RHP Randy Wells was reassigned to minor league camp.

That leaves Friday's starter Nick Tepesch, as the last official in-house candidate remaining. The rookie right-hander is scheduled to throw six innings with a 90-pitch limit against the Colorado Rockies at Surprise Stadium.

PODCAST
ESPN MLB Insider Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett in Surprise to discuss what to expect from the Rangers this season.

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While no one is saying it out loud, today's outing will go a long way in determining if Tepesch can be the final man in the starting rotation when spring training breaks.

"I'm not talking about the No. 5 starter yet until I am ready to announce it," manager Ron Washington said. "He (Tepesch) is still fighting for the No. 5 but that is all I'll say."

The ascension of Tepesch this spring has been one of the feel-good underdog stories of camp. The 24-year old was initially seen as a dark horse for this slot as he entered his first major league training camp as a non-roster invitee and little was known about him. All he has done is pitch well, showing poise beyond his experience.

With another strong outing Friday, he will greatly improve his chances to go from unknown to major league pitcher.

"I'm just trying to go about my business everyday and learn as much as I can," Tepesch said. "I feel like it's been a good camp so far."

In four spring outings, Tepesch has allowed five earned runs in 13 innings with 10 strikeouts. He was stingy during his first three appearances but gave up three runs in five innings in his last start Sunday against the Cubs in Las Vegas.

"I felt strong last time, throwing five and my body felt strong afterwards," Tepesch said. "I even felt like I could have gone a few more."

In the meantime, the Rangers will continue to stretch out Derek Lowe. The 39-year old, who was signed as a free agent to a minor-league deal March 6, is not being called an official candidate but is being used as such.

Lowe gave up six runs in 3.2 innings Thursday night, after trying to pitch four innings on two-days rest. He was sharp in the first three innings before wearing down. Washington said they hope to get six out of Lowe when he makes his next start.

"We have time to continue to stretch him out," Washington said. "That is our intention. He is on an accelerated program. Because of his experience, he is handling that accelerated program pretty good."

The Rangers haven't ruled out looking outside the organization for their answer at the No. 5 slot either.

"There's always a chance," Washington said. "We are always looking."

Grimm showed improvement in his last two appearances but was hit very hard in his first two outings. He said a renewed mental approach after those two outings led to his improvement. The 24-year old will have a chance to continue to show what he can do with Round Rock.

"He will get another opportunity at the major league level," Washington said. "Initially, most young guys haven't had enough baseball background to trust (themselves) so they try to go out and prove they can do something and sometimes you realize it too late that isn't the approach to take."

Wells struggled throughout camp with putting too many men on base. He oftentimes pitched out of jams but never got into a sustained rhythm. He'll remain in the organization with Round Rock and provide depth in the rotation.

With a little more than a week remaining in camp, the Rangers have four pitching slots to identify, the final rotation slot and three in the bullpen. Washington said by the end of camp, by any means necessary, those slots will be filled by the end of spring training.

"We are going to leave here with those four guys, you just wish someone would step it up and make it easier," Washington said. "But we are going to leave here with those four guys whether it be from outside or whether the four guys are inside, but we are going to leave with that staff totally filled. We are going to keep playing everyday and hopefully someone will take the lead."

After this morning's moves, the Rangers spring training roster is at 43 players.

Other team notes:

  • The Rangers announced today that Robbie Parker will throw the ceremonial first pitch prior to the team's home opener Friday, April 5 against the Angels. Parker is the father of six-year old Emilie Parker, who was killed in the horrific tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in December. Mr. Parker grew up in North Texas and will be accompanied by his wife and two daughters. Parker is a long-time Texas Rangers fan and took Emilie to several Rangers games in Arlington, Seattle and Boston.

  • Four Texas pitchers in major league camp will pitch in a minor league game tonight: LHP Michael Kirkman for Round Rock (AAA), RHP Josh Lindblom, RHP Coty Woods and RHP Johan Yan will all pitch for Frisco (AA).

  • Today marks the last of two meetings between Texas and Colorado. The Rangers lost the first meeting, 9-1, at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale.

  • Leonys Martin had four RBIs last night, including three on a walk-off double in the bottom of the ninth. He is tied with Mitch Moreland for the team lead with 11 RBIs.

  • PODCAST
    Jeremie Parker, the uncle of Newtown victim Emilie Parker, calls in to the Ben & Skin Show to thank Rangers nation for its support and reads an emotional text from Emilie's father.

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    Robbie Parker, whose 6-year-old daughter, Emilie, died in the Newtown tragedy last month, wrote a text message that his brother, Jeremie, read to those in attendance at Jamey Newberg's event on Monday at Sherlock's in Dallas to raise money for the families of those impacted by the tragedy. Rangers fans have contributed more than $40,000 through Newberg events to the funds (and other Rangers bloggers have collected money from fans as well to increase that total).

    Jeremie, who lives in Keller, went on the air with Ben & Skin on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM on Tuesday morning and read Robbie's text. Here it is:
    We would like to express our sincerest appreciation for all of the support, love and prayers offered for the families of every victim in this horrible tragedy. Your support has been felt and has touched all our lives in a very personal way. Thank you is not enough and feels inadequate to express our gratitude.

    Feeling that support from the Rangers organization and their fans is something that is very dear to me. I took Emilie to her first Rangers game when she was 3 months old. As I traveled around the country for my schooling and clinical rotations she also watched Rangers games with me in Seattle and Boston. She stayed up with me to watch World Series games and shared my disappointment with me afterwards. On December 13th, the day before the shooting, Emilie and I received news that Josh Hamilton had decided to sign with the Angels. I was a little discouraged. Emilie, in her way decided that she wanted to help. She suggested that we all go out to dinner to cheer daddy up! It worked and we had a very memorable dinner together, the last dinner we would have together as a whole family talking about how great the Rangers would do this year anyway!!

    I am so proud to be a Ranger fan, because I know that as a fan I actually belong to a community. I am glad that I was able to share that community with my precious daughter and that the same community has reached out to her and let our family know that she is remembered and loved. Thank you for all you have done to support our family through this time. GO RANGERS!!

    With love,
    Robbie Parker and family

    Jeremie shared some stories about Emilie on the air. He talked about how she was older than her six years and that she would spend whatever time was necessary to complete a project.

    "She taught adults more about life than adults taught her," Jeremie said.

    He said Emilie wanted to help people in any way she could. That included praying for Jeremie and his wife as they had difficulty trying to conceive a few years ago.

    "No matter what happened, she said, 'Dad, we have to pray tonight,'" Jeremie said. "When we finally found out we were pregnant and it was far enough long that we kind of knew we were out of the woods, we called our families and let them know. The first phone call we made after our parents was to Emilie. I let her know that your prayers have been answered and my brother said that she didn't say anything, she just had this big smile on her face. She told my brother, 'They're going to have a baby now.' She handed him the cell phone, turned around and walked away like, 'My mission's done. I'm finshed. I'm going to go on.'"

    Robbie took his daughter to some Rangers games, and she got a home run ball from David Murphy at one of the games. Murphy became her favorite player.

    "I talked to my brother before the event (Monday) and he sent the message to me," Jeremie said. "He's been very moved by all the love and support of the people of North Texas and the Ranger fans."

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    TEAM LEADERS

    WINS LEADER
    Yu Darvish
    WINS ERA SO IP
    8 2.97 142 115
    OTHER LEADERS
    BAA. Beltre .338
    HRA. Beltre 13
    RBIA. Beltre 50
    RA. Beltre 50
    OPSA. Beltre .922
    ERAY. Darvish 2.97
    SOY. Darvish 142