Not even general manager Jon Daniels could announce the Texas Rangers’ season-opening rotation without having a little fun, offering a whole dollar to the media member who could correctly guess the No. 5 starter. But even the first four Daniels named Wednesday, the club’s last day at the Surprise Recreation Campus, were unexpected as a whole. Only left-hander Martin Perez survived the most injury-ravaged spring training in franchise history, but he’s not the Opening Day starter. That duty Monday against Philadelphia falls to right-hander Tanner Scheppers, the primary eighth-inning set-up man last season who will become the first major league pitcher in 33 years to make his first career start in a season opener. Robbie Ross, another 2013 bullpen hand, will start the Rangers’ third game, following Perez. Fellow lefty Joe Saunders secured the No. 4 spot. Then there’s Nick Martinez, a right-hander who spent all but one month last season at Class A Myrtle Beach and didn’t make a single Cactus League start. He was the correct answer to Daniels’ single-dollar question. Right or wrong, the Rangers have their rotation. At least for the first few weeks of the 2014 season. Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison, Colby Lewis and, eventually, Derek Holland will be coming to the rescue. “I like where our rotation is,” Daniels said. “We have a lot of confidence in that group. “We have four guys on our pitching staff that won’t be with us Day One. With the exception of Derek, they should all be back in relatively short order. We’ll get that group back and go from there.” The rotation is more about what’s missing than what’s in it. The Rangers expect Darvish, who was scratched Tuesday from the opening start, to be back far sooner than later after an exam with specialist Dr. Drew Dossett revealed no structural damage in his neck. Darvish, who did not receive an injection, is scheduled to play catch this weekend before the Rangers set his course for returning to the mound. Because he hasn’t pitched since March 16, he could open the season on the disabled list and make a rehab start in the minors before making his 2014 debut. Fellow righty Lewis tossed five scoreless innings in the Rangers’ Cactus League finale Wednesday and could be an April option, and left-hander Harrison is on a schedule that would have him returning toward the end of the Rangers’ second homestand.
Tanner Scheppers atop unexpected Rangers rotation
Fort Worth Star-Telegram | Mar 27