Red alert time with Alexi Ogando?


Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

It may be time to queue the widespread panic and hysteria for all Texas Rangers fans and Texas Rangers brass.

In fact, get ready to sound the alarms.

With a pitching situation that entered Spring Training this season with plenty of question marks, it seems like even more questions have arose since pitchers and catchers made their arrival in Surprise, Ariz., in mid-February.

One of those question marks entering Spring Training was the role and effectiveness of Alexi Ogando. That question mark has only gotten larger and bolder in font.

Ogando has given up 14 runs in just 11 1/3 innings this spring, including 11 runs over his last 6 1/3. Eight of those runs have been earned, which gives him an ERA of 6.35.

I know, I know — it’s just the spring. But when manager Ron Washington comes out and says Ogando must now earn his spot in the rotation, it might be time to hit the panic button.

“He’s got to start getting outs,” Washington told reporters last night after Ogando’s latest appearance. “Up until the last two, he has been throwing the ball well.”

Washington is trying to put a silver lining in the situation, as small as it may seem, but it’s easy to read between the lines and see that no one who has anything invested in the Texas Rangers – financially, emotionally or professionally – feels comfortable about things right now.

With Derek Holland possibly out until June, Matt Harrison’s return up in the air, Colby Lewis’ future in limbo, and the complete unknowns that Tommy Hanson and Joe Saunders are, there is plenty of reason for that uncomfortable feeling.

And the organization has already decided Nick Tepesch needs more seasoning in AAA, optioning the right-hander out to Round Rock on Monday.

If you listen to social media, message boards, sports talk and just about any other medium out there that allows people to voice their opinions, fans have begun clamoring – almost desperately – to Tanner Scheppers and Robbie Ross.

Both have performed well this spring, but again that question arises: How much stock can we put into Spring Training?

So there are your candidates, and it’s hard to be comfortable with any of them at this point.

Aside from Yu Darvish and Martin Perez, the pitching rotation is up in the air. Yes, Perez did give up five earned runs on Tuesday, but he held the opposition scoreless until the fifth inning, and those runs came on a few defensive miscues by a few players who will not make the major league roster.

There still is time, however, for things to shape up.

Matt Harrison, who did pitch in his first spring game on Monday, may be able to get himself into shape – if he has no more setbacks with his back – just in time to be named the fifth starter, which may not be needed the first time through the rotation.

Colby Lewis may get his form down. He’s been forced to make some adjustments to his stride since recovering from surgery to remove bone chips in his hip.

The type of surgery Lewis had – which required resurfacing of the hip – is almost considered stopping just shy of being hip replacement surgery.

Maybe Tommy Hanson irons things out and grabs ahold of one of the three open spots.

Maybe Joe Saunders improves and actually starts getting some outs. He’s given up ten hits in just 7 innings pitched so far, which only brings back nightmares of the failed Roy Oswalt experiment.

Or maybe, just maybe, Alexi Ogando starts pitching the way he is capable. We’ve certainly seen it out of him, just not much as a starting pitcher since 2011.

Perhaps I should ease my finger away from the panic button and let the next week and a half play itself out. But I have said it once and I’ll say it again: Alexi Ogando is better suited for the Texas Rangers out of the bullpen.

But injuries pretty much forced Ogando right up into the No. 3 spot and he’s just having trouble getting a good grip on it, much like he has seemed to be having trouble getting a good grip on his change-up.

Blast those injuries.

For now, I’ll ease up a bit – maybe — but I won’t be surprised if the Texas Rangers do indeed go red alert on Alexi Ogando as a starting pitcher.