No. 5 starter candidate Nick Tepesch roughed up

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rookie right-hander Nick Tepesch has had a dream spring in his first major league training camp. He came in as an unknown non-roster invitee but is not anonymous any more.

After a strong debut, there was cautious interest in the 24-year old. Let's see it again they said. So, he did it again. In fact, his first three outings were good enough to start turning heads. After a couple weeks of camp, Tepesch was suddenly a darkhorse candidate for the open fifth starter spot in the rotation.

Meanwhile, the other candidates gradually fell out of contention, either because of injury or ineffectiveness. Tepesch rose in the ranks to the point that a strong performance during his scheduled six-inning start Friday would have all but ensured the rookie would break camp with the No. 5 job.

After allowing eight earned runs on 12 hits in five-plus innings of the Rangers 14-9 loss to Colorado, Tepesch had his first real battle with adversity. With an admittedly limited body of work this spring, he has shown the talent and poise to potentially fill a need for Texas. Now, we have to see how he bounces back the next time he takes the mound.

"I've always had a good feel for him," manager Ron Washington said. "It was about how he would react to adversity and I thought he reacted well. He battled hard and kept coming. He just ran out of gas in the sixth inning."

In his last start Sunday, Tepesch gave up three runs in five innings against the Chicago Cubs. We were warned that this is a young player and not to expect too much but it is difficult not to get caught up when someone new makes such an impact.

Is the feel good story over or is it just starting to write itself? An opportunity is still there. If the young right-hander can pitch well in his next appearance, he may not only take advantage of it, but find himself in the major leagues.