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Perez to open year on DL, eyes April 5 debut

Rangers southpaw had 4.50 ERA over 2 Cactus League starts
MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Rangers pitcher Martin Perez said he needs one more start before he is ready to pitch in a regular-season game and he expects to start the season on the disabled list.

That could allow Bartolo Colon to make at least one start in the rotation before the Rangers make a decision on him. Perez said the plan is for him to pitch in an exhibition game for Triple-A Round Rock next week and join the rotation on April 5 to pitch against the Athletics in Oakland.

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PEORIA, Ariz. -- Rangers pitcher Martin Perez said he needs one more start before he is ready to pitch in a regular-season game and he expects to start the season on the disabled list.

That could allow Bartolo Colon to make at least one start in the rotation before the Rangers make a decision on him. Perez said the plan is for him to pitch in an exhibition game for Triple-A Round Rock next week and join the rotation on April 5 to pitch against the Athletics in Oakland.

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"That's the tentative plan … [is to] continue to lengthen him out," manager Jeff Banister said.

Perez's first start would fall on the eighth game of the season, meaning the Rangers would need a fifth starter through the first turn in the rotation to go with Cole Hamels, Doug Fister, Matt Moore and Mike Minor.

Colon would be the most prominent candidate after posting a 3.00 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP through five starts in Spring Training. The other option would be to give rookie left-hander Yohander Mendez one start and then send him to Triple-A.

"We'll continue to look at all our options," Banister said. "We haven't made a decision yet."

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Perez has made just two starts in Cactus League games while finishing his recovery from a broken bone in the tip of his right elbow. Perez was hoping to be ready for the start of the regular season. He allowed four runs in five innings in a 9-7 loss to the Padres on Friday night.

"The good thing is I will be starting the rest of the year on the same schedule as everybody else," Perez said.

Colon is in camp on a Minor League contract and the Rangers have to make a decision on him soon. Their biggest concern is the overall depth of their rotation beyond the first five.

That's why they are trying to figure out a way to keep Colon, whether it is as a spot starter or long reliever. They could also at some point try to convince him to pitch at Round Rock for a month or so.

That would cover the Rangers in case of injury at least early in the season, and it would give Colon more opportunities for other clubs to watch him.

The Rangers have reason to be concerned about their depth. Right now, the Round Rock rotation consists of right-handers Adrian Sampson and Austin Bibens-Dirkx, and left-handers David Hurlburt and Mendez. Clayton Blackburn and Ronald Herrera were supposed be in it as well but they came down with arm injuries in camp and will start the season on the disabled list.

"We just don't have the same level of protection," general manager Jon Daniels said. "We are trying to figure out how do we preserve as much depth as we can."

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