ARLINGTON, Texas -- Rangers CEO Nolan Ryan said Tuesday that he expects Alexi Ogando's role in the rotation to be temporary.
"That’s what I would think unless he excels so well that it makes sense to leave him in that position." Ryan said. "I think with the needs of our bullpen, he’s going to need to be in bullpen over the course of the year, but I think he has potential as a starter. He’s very capable of doing either."
Ogando is slated to start tonight's game against Coastal Carolina in Myrtle Beach, S.C., in order to stretch him out for the season. If all goes well, he's expected to start the season in the rotation, probably as the No. 4 starter to break the lefties up. That means he would start the first game of the series with Seattle on Monday.
Ryan believes Ogando can handle the job.
"I think he’ll be fine," Ryan said. "I just think that he has that makeup and with his fastball and slider, he’ll be fine. I don’t see him pitching us in the late innings because of the role he played last year. I think Ron [manager Ron Washington] won’t leave him in as long in games as maybe he would with C.J. [Wilson] or Colby [Lewis] or maybe [Derek] Holland, just because of the fact that he’s really young from the perspective of baseball experience."
Ogando was stretched out as a starter going into spring training and was told he would be pitching in the bullpen just a few days before Tommy Hunter strained his right groin. Hunter could be out six weeks. Ryan believes that Ogando would then slide back into the bullpen once Hunter or maybe even Brandon Webb are healthy.
Ogando, 27, pitched in the Rangers' bullpen over the final four months of the season. He was 4-1 with a1.30 ERA in 41 2/3 innings of setup duty with 39 strikeouts and 16 walks.