Two former Pelicans in hunt for spot in Rangers’ rotation

After just two seasons as the Advanced Class A affiliate of the Texas Rangers, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans could already have two veterans in the parent club’s starting pitching rotation to open the 2013 season.

Former Pelicans pitchers Robbie Ross and Justin Grimm are embroiled in a battle for the fifth spot on the Rangers’ starting staff. And ex-Pelican Matt Harrison, who played in Myrtle Beach when the team was affiliated with the Atlanta Braves before being traded to Texas, has already cemented his name in the heart of the rotation.

Although Ross, who starred for the 2011 Pelicans in their inaugural season with the Rangers, and Grimm, who started last season in Myrtle Beach, have quickly worked their way up the minor-league ladder, their rapid ascent has also been the result of injuries and inconsistencies with pitchers ahead of them in the pecking order.

Martin Perez appeared to be an early favorite for the job, but he broke his left forearm after being hit by a line drive earlier this month in spring training. It could be early April before Perez climbs back on the mound.

Kyle McClellan has a history in the majors as a starter, and he appeared to be on the right track after throwing two scoreless innings in his spring training debut after missing three weeks recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. However, McClellan soon suffered a straining ribcage muscle, and he could be two months from throwing his next pitch.

Ross may not feel the same pressure as the some of the other healthy candidates in camp, such as Grimm and Randy Wells. Ross is assured of a spot in the bullpen on Opening Day, but he wants to get back into the rotation.

“Honestly, I would love to be in that spot,” Ross told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “If I don’t get that spot, I’m not going to be whining and complaining about it. I’ll be fine wherever they want me to be.

“All these people say don’t worry about right now because you never know what might happen in the next month. You just never know.”

Grimm has a solid track record as a starter in the minors, but was knocked around in his first two starts of the spring before settling into a groove. Wells has a major league track record, but allowed too many baserunners in his innings this spring.

Whoever lands the job figures to be a caretaker in the rotation unless they can have a breakthrough rookie season. Colby Lewis, who had right shoulder surgery last July, hopes to return to the rotation in May.

Photo courtesy of MB Pelicans

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