Ross struggles for first time this spring

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- For the first time this spring, Robbie Ross struggled with his command, allowing two runs on three hits in 2.2 innings. He was scheduled to throw four innings but hit his pitch limit before completing the third, thanks in part to three walks.

"I would have liked to finish out the inning or least [have] been able to finish out the game plan that we had -- either four innings or 60-65 pitches," Ross said. "I would have liked to go four [innings] and get it all done with, but it didn't happen today."

This was the first rough outing for Ross, who has looked sharp in nine previous innings of work. The left-hander said he felt great after his bullpen session prior to the start, but that didn't translate to the game.

Command hasn't been an issue, but on Sunday he fell behind hitters and struggled throwing first-pitch strikes.

"I was not feeling it today. It's the kind of thing where you are not always going to have your best stuff," Ross said. "I felt like I was behind all the time and trying to work from behind. It is something to learn from, obviously, that it's a lot easier to pitch when you are ahead."

Ross is one of a number of pitchers who are competing for the fifth starter role. Another competitor, Justin Grimm, rebounded well after struggling in his first two outings. Grimm allowed a run on one walk and four hits in three innings, while striking out three. Grimm has seven punch outs in 7.1 innings, showing he can be hard to hit when he keeps the ball down in the zone.

"It wasn't easy, but he gave us three innings and the outs we needed," manager Ron Washington said. "His breaking ball was working today, and his fastball was good when it was down in the zone. I didn't think they hit him very hard today. He got it done, and I'm happy for him. I hope it gives him a little confidence."