ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Rangers pitcher Nick Martinez said he is expecting about 50 family and friends at Tropicana Field on Saturday when he makes his Major League debut against David Price and the Rays.
Martinez was named the Rangers' fifth starter at the end of Spring Training, even though he has pitched in just five games at Double-A Frisco. He was 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA last season after being promoted from Class A Myrtle Beach. Martinez was 10-7 with a 2.87 ERA in 22 games at Myrtle Beach.
"Fun day ... I'm going to enjoy it all and take it all in," Martinez said. "Good or bad, it will be a great learning experience. The nerves on the mound, I can't wait for that, but I'm hoping I react the right way. This is something you dream about since you were a kid. I can't wait to get out there."
Martinez, 23, was an 18th round Draft pick out of Fordham University in 2011. The Rangers selected him for Saturday's assignment not only because of his ability, but because they believe he has the poise, confidence and maturity to handle it.
"Just go out, relax, use his pitches and get as many outs as he can and stay out there as long as he can," manager Ron Washington said. "He just needs to go out and believe in himself, believe in the stuff he has and use it. Being a young kid, we have to wait and see when he gets out there. But he should be effective if he trusts himself."
Martinez is getting this opportunity because Yu Darvish started the season on the disabled list with stiffness in his neck. Darvish is expected to come off the disabled list on Sunday, so this could be a one-start experience for Martinez.
"Whatever happens, I'm taking it as a learning experience," Martinez said. "Enjoy the ride and learn as much as I can while I'm here."
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.