Right-hander Alexi Ogando was one of the 10 or so pitchers at the Surprise Recreation Campus on Sunday morning, though he didn't make it onto a field for a little long-toss. It appeared as though Ogando was just checking in, but he seemed genuinely happy to arrive a little early for spring training.
Ogando is back in the role he prefers, as a starting pitcher, and he wants to succeed in it so much that he will not pitch for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. He is in Arizona to work.
"It was hard," Ogando said, without the help of a translator. "I want to pitch, but I have an opportunity now to be a starter. I want to work hard."
Ogando was an All-Star the last and only time he was in the rotation, back in 2011. He made on spot start last season and likely would have stuck in the rotation had he not suffered a strained groin while running out a June bunt at San Francisco.
He pledged to not run hard this season.
He is also working on his changeup and a two-seam fastball. He throws two sliders, one at 87 mph and the other at 81. He relied on only two pitches in 2011, a fastball and a slider.
The Rangers put a tiring Ogando in their bullpen for the 2011 run to the World Series and kept him there last season. He's a starter now, and couldn't be happier.
"For me, starting is easier," he said. "I like the routine. It's difficult when you're a reliever and you go back to the rotation."
-- Jeff Wilson