SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Right-hander Tanner Scheppers starts Friday against the Reds and left-hander Robbie Ross will follow him. Next Wednesday, Rangers officials will likely have their first organizational meeting to discuss the state of the team.
At that time, the Rangers will start forming definite plans for their rotation candidates. If Ross and Scheppers want to be in the rotation -- they both definitely do -- Friday night will be a good time to shine.
"It's what I want to do, so there is no better time than now," Ross said. "We need somebody to step up, and I plan on being that guy. Starting has been my passion since I started playing, so it would be great."
Ross has pitched in 4 2/3 innings in Cactus League games, allowing two runs on four hits and two walks with two strikeouts. More important, left-handers are 0-for-5 off him. Left-handers hit .341 off him last year, which is why Ross slipped behind Neal Cotts in the bullpen hierarchy in the second half last season. The Rangers want him to be better against left-handers, whether he is starting or relieving.
Scheppers is also a candidate to be the Rangers' closer. Whether it is starter or reliever, Scheppers will have a prominent role on the pitching staff. He is hoping it will be as a starter, although that would mean the bullpen taking a big hit.
"For me personally, I would love the opportunity to start," Scheppers said. "There are a lot of guys competing for a couple of spots. All I can do is control what I can do on the field."
Two more rotation candidates will take the mound Saturday when Colby Lewis and Nick Tepesch pitch against the Athletics in Phoenix. Tommy Hanson, Joe Saunders, Michael Kirkman and Jose Contreras are also competing for two spots in the rotation behind Yu Darvish, Martin Perez and Alexi Ogando.
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.