OAKLAND -- The Rangers have sent struggling reliever Robbie Ross Jr. to Triple-A Round Rock. He will be used as a starter for the Express, primarily because it will get him more mound time and also time between starts to work with Round Rock pitching coach Brad Holman.
"We just feel like he needs consistent work," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "He has had periods where he struggled before but not to this degree. It feels like his mistakes have been costly and he hasn't been able to right the ship. His work ethic has been great. Robbie cares, but he has not been able to sort through it up here."
Ross, after serving as a left-handed setup reliever the past two years, opened the season in the rotation and was 1-4 with a 4.78 ERA in nine starts. The Rangers moved him back to the bullpen on May 20 and he has a 9.00 ERA in nine appearances with opponents hitting .415 off him. He has allowed eight runs on nine hits over 3 1/3 innings in his last four outings.
"He needs to go down and work it out," manager Ron Washington said. "He needs to throw strikes on both sides of the plate and start getting some outs."
Monday's 14-8 win underscored the Rangers' frustration. Ross entered the game in relief of Colby Lewis with one out, a runner on second base and the Rangers leading, 11-4. The Rangers were hoping for at least a couple of good innings out of Ross so they wouldn't have to empty the bullpen. Instead, he walked the first batter he faced and then gave up a three-run home run to Yoenis Cespedes. Ross got the next hitter before Shawn Tolleson replaced him.
Before the game was over, the Rangers had to use five relievers including setup men Jason Frasor and Neal Cotts. The Rangers were hoping Ross would keep them from having to use those two. Now he is going back to the Minor Leagues to try to figure it all out.
"It's disappointing, but it's part of it," Ross said. "I'll just keep battling and do what I have to do to get back here ... It just hasn't been my year so far."
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.