ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rangers have optioned pitcher Nick Martinez to Double-A Frisco and remain unsure if Joe Saunders will be able to make his next start.
Saunders is still getting treatment for a bruised left ankle after getting hit by Evan Longoria's line drive in Friday's start against the Rays. Saunders has been able to play catch, but he has not thrown off a mound yet.
Saunders' next turn falls on Friday. But the Rangers have a day off on Thursday and could push back Saunders as far as April 15 if needed. The Rangers could also have Colby Lewis ready to rejoin the rotation as early as Friday. He pitches on Sunday for Triple-A Round Rock.
"We just have to keep playing it by ear right now," manager Ron Washington said. "We still have some decisions to make."
Martinez was sent down after holding the Rays to three runs in six innings on Saturday night. He left with a 4-3 lead in his Major League debut but the Rays rallied against reliever Neal Cotts for a 5-4 victory.
"I had a great time and it was a great learning experience," Martinez said. "I couldn't have asked for much more. I had an amazing time."
Martinez knew he would only make one start. He was here because Yu Darvish had to start the season on the disabled list with stiffness in his neck. Darvish was activated on Sunday and the Rangers beat the Rays, 3-0.
Martinez admitted there was always hope he might be able to stay around for more than one start.
"I didn't want to put any extra pressure on myself, but in a perfect world, you're thinking you might be able to stay," Martinez said. "But you don't want to put any extra pressure on yourself so you just pitch your game."
Washington said Martinez will start again for the Rangers at some point.
"He did a great job," Washington said. "He showed poise out there and proved he's got pitchability. I don't think the kid has faced hitters like he did last night. I don't think he got rattled. He left the game in the sixth inning with an opportunity to win the ballgame.
"We know who Nick Martinez is. He's going to pitch for the Rangers for a long time, we just don't know when we can get him back 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.