Robbie Ross continues to impress

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- If the chatter about the Texas Rangers looking outside the organization for a solution at the fifth starter spot is true, Robbie Ross is doing his best to make them think otherwise.

The left-hander made his third appearance of the spring and had his third impressive performance. Ross pitched a spring-high four innings and allowed just one run on four hits with one strikeout in the Rangers 3-2 win over the Chicago Cubs.

The lone blemish was a solo home run in the first inning by Scott Hairston, who is known as a lefty killer.

"I felt like maybe I attacked him a little too much," Ross said.

Ross scattered his other hits, including a single to lead off the game. He erased that baserunner by inducing a double play, which minimized the damage when Hairston went yard one batter later.

Ross also excelled at forcing ground-ball outs, as seven of the 12 outs he recorded never left the infield. All three outs he recorded in the second inning were 4-3 putouts.

"The first inning, obviously that home run, I could have done without that," Ross said. "After that, I settled down and just tried to throw strikes."

Among the healthy pitchers in camp seeking that final rotation job, Ross has been the most consistent. He was sharp on Feb. 27, when he was one batter from throwing three scoreless innings, and again in his spring debut on Feb. 22 when he allowed just one hit in two innings.

Including today, Ross has allowed three runs on nine hits with one walk and two strikeouts through nine innings.

If Ross continues pitching well throughout the spring and the organization still decides to use him out of the bullpen -- where he excelled in 2012 -- then Ross said he is fine with that.

"I like to think I've been given an opportunity and I just want to work hard for it," Ross said. "Honestly, the biggest thing I'm thinking about is just making it in the big leagues. I'm totally fine with being in the bullpen. If it's as a starter, it's as a starter, but I'm completely fine if I'm in the bullpen."

In 2012, Ross was a used as a reliever and appeared in 58 games, going 6-0 with a 2.22 ERA in 65 innings. However, during four minor league seasons, Ross was exclusively used in the rotation. In 68 career starts, he posted a 26-20 record with a 2.88 ERA in 381 2/3 innings.