TEMPE, Ariz. -- Rangers starter Martin Perez threw a curveball at the Angels on Wednesday, stepping on the mound with Texas written across his chest and Venezuela on his mind.The approach worked.Perez was charged with one run on five hits in 2 2/3 innings in the 3-2 loss. He walked
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Rangers starter Martin Perez threw a curveball at the Angels on Wednesday, stepping on the mound with Texas written across his chest and Venezuela on his mind.
The approach worked.
Perez was charged with one run on five hits in 2 2/3 innings in the 3-2 loss. He walked one batter and struck out another in the 47-pitch outing. He expects to pitch four or five innings in one more game for the Rangers before he joins Team Venezuela for the World Baseball Classic next week, but his schedule has not been determined.
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"I was trying to work on my curveball and my sinker down and away," Perez said. "I feel good. My arm is good, and I'm close to being ready to pitch for the Venezuelan team."
Last season, Perez went 10-11 with a 4.39 ERA in 198 2/3 innings over 33 starts for the Rangers. He relied heavily on his sinking fastball and has been working on mixing in more fastballs up in the zone, curveballs and changeups.
The 25-year-old left-hander estimated he threw eight curveballs and more sliders in his final inning on Wednesday aftenoon. He also admitted to overthrowing in the first two frames before calming down in the third.
"I thought Martin handled himself well," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "I think he was working on a breaking ball a little bit today. If you are asking about his demeanor and his competitiveness, I though he competed well."
Perez retired Cameron Maybin to start the first inning, but the next three hitters -- Kole Calhoun, Michael Trout and Luis Valbuena -- each followed with a single to give the Angels an early 1-0 lead. The southpaw escaped the frame when Danny Espinosa hit into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.
In the second, he retired Jefry Marte on a ground ball and struck out Martin Maldonado for the first two outs.Carlos Martinez followed with a single and Perez walked Cliff Pennington on four pitches before Maybin groundout upped Perez's pitch total to 20 in the frame.
Trout smacked a one-out double in the third. The next batter, Valbuena, hit a comebacker to Perez for the second out. He would not throw another pitch, replaced by right-hander Austin Pettibone.
"[Trout] got me with the curveball. That's OK," Perez said with a smile. "It's Spring Training. During the season is different. He knows me, and I know him. It's going to be different in the season. We are just trying to get ready for the season."
The Rangers will get a close look at Perez's Venezuelan team when they face it in an exhibition game on March 9 in Surprise. Seattle starter Felix Hernandez will pitch Venezuela's first real World Baseball Classic game against Puerto Rico the following day. Perez is scheduled to pitch on March 11 against Italy.
And no, Perez said he will not pitch against the Rangers.
"We have a lot of expectations," Perez said. "We have a good team. We just need to play the game like we play in Venezuela. Enjoy the game and do the little things first."
Jesse Sanchez, who has been writing for MLB.com since 2001, is a national reporter based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook.