SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers left-handed pitcher Martin Perez was lost for at least two months when he suffered a broken left arm during Sunday's 7-6 loss to the Mariners. The injury takes him out of the competition to be the Rangers' fifth starter.
The injury could force the Rangers to re-consider the possibility of pursuing free agent pitcher Kyle Lohse. The Rangers had some interest in Lohse at one point during the winter, but backed off as Spring Training approached. He is still an occasional topic of conversation within the front office.
"I feel for Martin -- he looked like he's figuring some thing out," general manager Jon Daniels said. "He'll bounce back. ... We'll look around at external options, but I expect to go internally at this point. Knock on wood -- hope to get both Colby [Lewis] and Martin back a month into the season, give or take."
Perez was hit above the left wrist by a line drive off the bat of second baseman Brad Miller in the sixth inning. He was taken to a local hospital and X-rays revealed a fracture of the ulna bone in his left forearm.
Perez, who was 1-4 with a 5.45 ERA in six starts and six relief appearances for the Rangers last season, is not expected to resume a throwing program for approximately four weeks while the fracture heals. He will likely need at least another month to rebuild his arm strength and pitch counts before being an option for the rotation in either Arlington or Triple-A Round Rock.
Perez had emerged early in Spring Training as a strong candidate for the fifth starter spot after throwing two scoreless innings against the Rockies in his first start. He came on in relief of Justin Grimm on Sunday and had allowed one run in one-plus inning against the Mariners before getting hit by the line drive.
He is not the only fifth-starter candidate who has been hit by injury. Kyle McClellan remains sidelined with muscle soreness in the back of his right shoulder and has yet to pitch in a game.
Left-hander Robbie Ross and right-hander Randy Wells are the two best candidates for the fifth-starter spot. Ross has allowed two runs in five innings of work and Wells has allowed three runs, two earned, over four innings. Grimm is also a candidate, but has allowed nine runs over 4 1/3 innings in his first two outings.
The mystery candidate is Nate Robertson, who was brought into camp on a Minor League contract as a left-handed candidate for the bullpen. Robertson hasn't pitched in the Majors since 2010, but he has pitched three scoreless innings in relief so far this spring for the Rangers. He made 187 career Major League starts for the Tigers and Marlins with a record of 56-77 and a 4.88 ERA. The Rangers weren't planning to stretch him out as a starter, but he does have that experience.
Lohse is still a free agent even though he went 16-3 with a 2.86 ERA in 33 starts for the Cardinals this past season. One reason why the Rangers have been reluctant to pursue him is that they must forfeit their first-round Draft pick if they sign him.
The Rangers don't want to give up that Draft pick so they came into camp determined to look hard at what they already have. The Rangers also expect Colby Lewis to return from flexor tendon surgery sometime within the first two months of the season.
But the unexpectedly high attrition rate to their fifth-starter candidates could force them to re-consider. Their fourth starter is also not off to a great start.
Alexi Ogando has made two starts and allowed three runs on five hits and four walks in 3 1/3 innings. He has just one strikeout. He and Ross are scheduled to pitch on Wednesday against the Cubs on Wednesday in Surprise.
The Rangers, as of Sunday, still have four weeks left before Opening Day, and that's plenty of time to sort through their fifth-starter candidates. But it also gives them time to get Kyle Lohse signed, get him into camp and get him ready for the start of the season.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.