Martin Perez has drama-free spring

ARLINGTON, Texas -- While pitchers around him were scurrying for MRIs or struggling to throw strikes, Martin Perez just kept his eyes on the strike zone.

"I wanted to learn from last year and focus on getting better and getting prepared for the season," Perez said.

The 22-year-old starter managed to avoid the injury issues that others did not. He said he felt bad for Yu Darvish, who has a stiff neck that will keep him from making the Opening Day start and was happy for Tanner Scheppers that he gets the opportunity.

"If they had wanted me to do that, I would have gone out and done the best job I could have," Perez said. "But Tanner is a friend of mine and he deserves that chance. I'll be ready when it's my turn."

That turn comes in Game 2 of the season against the Philadelphia Phillies on April 1. Perez's numbers may not look great after leaving Arizona -- nine runs on 11 hits in Cactus League games -- but the left-hander was pleased with his arm strength and said he got the work done that he wanted to in spring training. That included a final tuneup of 100 pitches in a minor-league game.

Perez said he learned a lot about himself last season, starting with understanding how to limit the damage in a rough inning and to forget about it and stay in games.

"I want to get even more consistent," Perez said. "I want to build off last year."

Perez was 10-6 with a 3.62 ERA with a 1.335 WHIP in 20 starts last season. He was consistent and showed he had the ability to rack up innings and stay in the rotation.

"When things started to get out of hand (in innings this spring), he was able to get it back and in check," manager Ron Washington said. "With the starters that we have in the rotation to start the season, we need to have a lot of that. They need to be able to minimize the damage, and I saw him begin to minimize the damage without Mike (Maddux) or me having to talk to him. He's shown some maturity. He still has some ways to go."

Washington acknowledged that he has high expectations for Perez and is looking forward to watching him build off 2014.

"I have to keep doing what I've been doing," Perez said. "I want to stay healthy and pitch as deep as I can."

That last part, in particular, is important, given the injury-filled spring for the Rangers.