Fifth starter candidate: Cody Buckel

Editor's note: This is an occasional series of blogs looking at some of the candidates for the fifth starter spot on for the Texas Rangers in 2013.

Today's candidate: Cody Buckel

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Cody Buckel isn't looking at spring training as simply a chance to get exposed to big league pitchers, though that's a benefit he plans on taking advantage of while he's here.

No, Buckel knows there's a job up for grabs. And while he may come in as a bit of a long shot, he intends to show he can handle it.

"It's definitely realistic," Buckel said. "I've been told there's a chance. I'm going to perform and do what I'm capable of doing and let my actions speak for themselves."

Buckel said he plans on spending as much of spring picking the brains of the major league players.

"I'm going to talk to people and see what their story is and how they got to the big leagues and how they stay here," Buckel said.

Buckel was 10-8 with a 2.49 ERA in 144 2/3 innings split between Class A Myrtle Beach and Double-A Frisco in 2012. He was 8-3 with a 2.61 ERA in 96 2/3 innings at Hickory in 2011.

"(Last season) was a good year following a good year in 2011, so back-to-back good years is always a good thing," Buckel said. "I was healthy. I was durable. I was pretty pleased with it."

Buckel notes that besides his fastball, curve, slider and changeup repertoire, he's added a shuuto, or a reverse slider. I'll let Buckel explain.

"It's like a left-handed version of a cutter," he said. "It has run. It's not hard enough to be a sinker and not slow enough to be a screwball. It's in between. It's a unique pitch."

And one that Buckel said he started throwing more midway through last year.

"It moves in to a right-handed hitter for me," Buckel said. "It stayed low in the zone. It was a big pitch for me. I could throw it 2-1, 1-1, 3-1, a good pitch to throw behind in the count. It would help me get back in the count."