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Perez impresses in recovery from bull accident

Left-hander tosses five innings of one-run ball in Cactus League debut
MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The bull is dead.

"Killed and ate him," Rangers left-hander Martin Perez said.

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The bull is dead.

"Killed and ate him," Rangers left-hander Martin Perez said.

That was the bull that startled Perez while he was sitting on a fence at his Venezuelan ranch back in December. Perez fell off the fence and landed on his right elbow, fracturing the radial bone in the tip of the elbow and requiring surgery.

"When I went back from Arlington after the surgery, I told my brother we needed to kill the bull and eat him," Perez said. "We did, too. It was good meat."

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Perez was smiling while telling that story on Sunday afternoon after allowing one run in five innings against the Angels. It was Perez's first Cactus League start of the spring and reinforced his belief he will be ready for the start of the season.

"I think what I did today was enough," Perez said. "They know I am ready to compete and go to Arlington and start out the season with the team. I don't need to pitch better than I did today. We'll see what happens but I am ready, I am good.

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As for the surgically repaired right elbow?

That looked fine, too, on Shohei Ohtani's line drive back up the middle in the fourth. The Angels had a runner on third base, but Perez snatched the ball without problem and flipped it to third baseman Adrian Beltre for an inning-ending double play.

"I didn't feel anything," Perez said. "It was hit hard but I was quicker."

The play was part of a bigger overall test for Perez in his quest to be in the rotation at the start of the season. The Rangers are willing to take it slow but Perez is adamant he is ready to go.

Video: LAA@TEX: Perez starts a double play off Ohtani liner

He backed up his determination by allowing just three hits, one walk and a strikeout while retiring 12 outs on ground balls. He was working against an Angels lineup that included Ohtani, Mike Trout, Justin Upton, Ian Kinsler, Kole Calhoun and Andrelton Simmons.

The Angels' big boys.

"I felt great today," Perez said. "I think I am ready for the season. I threw a lot of [sinkers] and changeups. I didn't throw many sliders or curveballs because they didn't get to my fastball. Just tried to stay with my pitch. I had a great game."

Video: LAA@TEX: Martin Perez reflects on his performance

Manager Jeff Banister is not ready to declare Perez ready for the regular season. The southpaw will start again in the Cactus League, most likely on Friday against the Padres. But Banister said Perez did "check a lot of boxes" on Sunday.

"Everything was a plus today," Banister said. "He is trending in the right direction. Everything looked good today. We'll see how he comes in tomorrow."

This is what Perez looks like when he is at his best. This was the guy who was 8-2 with a 3.71 ERA in his last 11 starts of 2017. This what the Rangers were hoping would carry over into Spring Training before the accident last December.

The original prognosis was Perez wouldn't be ready until late April or early May. Perez has been on a mission since camp opened that he would beat that timeline and be ready at the start of the season. He realized Sunday was going to be a test to show the Rangers he is right.

"Yes, yes," Perez said. "I feel what I was feeling last year. And I feel I can throw the ball where [catcher Robinson] Chirinos calls it and I am going to pound the zone. I feel great … amazing."

The damage is gone.

So is the bull.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

Texas Rangers, Martin Perez