All signs point to an open competition for the fifth spot in the Texas Rangers' starting rotation during spring training.

"It's up for grabs," pitching coach Mike Maddux said. "There's really no telling who the forerunner is on it, but we do have some in-house candidates."

The leading internal candidates were on hand Friday and will be today for the team's pitching minicamp at Rangers Ballpark, where the younger pitchers in the organization go through on-field workouts, strength and conditioning exercises and classroom work.

And all of them -- namely Martin Perez, Justin Grimm and Robbie Ross -- understand the opportunity to become a member of the Opening Day rotation, even though it could be a temporary stay until Colby Lewis is fully recovered from right elbow surgery.

"This is a big year," Perez said. "They've told me it's an opportunity. I've got to do the job and see what happens."

Said Grimm: "A starting spot is the ultimate goal. That's what I'm prepared to go into spring to compete for."

Ross, who won a big-league job as a reliever last spring after spending his minor-league career as a starter, said he is excited about the opportunity to start again but knows it'll be a competition.

"Last year, I came in expecting to start at Double A or Triple A," Ross said. "So I am going with the same approach [this off-season] because it ended up being the best thing for me."

Along with the internal candidates, general manager Jon Daniels said last week at Fan Fest that there was a "reasonable chance" the team would add somebody from outside the organization to compete for the spot.

That pitcher would probably come on a minor-league contract, as it seems unlikely the Rangers will reach an agreement with a free agent starter, such as Kyle Lohse, who would preempt the competition.