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."
No limits for Lewis in rehab start Sunday
ST. PETERSBURG -- There will be no more pitch counts for Colby Lewis when he starts for Triple-A Round Rock against Oklahoma City on Sunday. This will be Lewis' final start before April 10. Lewis has a clause in his contract that allows him to become a free agent if he is not on the Major League roster by that day.
Lewis threw 92 pitches in his last outing for Double-A Frisco in an exhibition game against Round Rock on Tuesday. Now it's time to just go out and pitch.
"No limits," Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux said. "Go out and compete ... produce."
Lewis hasn't pitched in the Major Leagues since July 18, 2012. He had flexor tendon surgery on his right elbow in 2012, and a hip replacement last season.
Lewis is farther along than Matt Harrison, who had his first medical rehabilitation start cut short by rain on Thursday night. The Rangers wanted Harrison to throw four innings and 65 pitches for Double-A Frisco against Northwest Arkansas. Instead, he made it through two innings and 42 pitches. He is scheduled to pitch again on Tuesday at Northwest Arkansas, with the goal again being four innings and 65 pitches.
"Mother Nature didn't cooperate but we're staying on schedule," Maddux said. "He might get a bigger bullpen [session] than normal tomorrow."
Harrison started the season on the disabled list while finishing off his recovery from two back operations a year ago to repair a herniated disk. He likely needs 3-4 more starts before he is an option for the Major League rotation.
Choo, Choice expected in lineup vs. Price
ST. PETERSBURG -- Shin-Soo Choo and Michael Choice are both expected to be in the lineup on Saturday when the Rangers face left-hander David Price.
Choo, a left-handed hitter, is 2-for-13 with five strikeouts in his career against Price, who is tough on all lefties. Price has held left-handed hitters to a .197 batting average in his career. But manager Ron Washington said he is going to play Choo against everybody right now.
"As we move into the year and he needs a day off, it might be when we face a left-hander," Washington said. "But this early in the season, he is going to face them all."
Washington wants to get Choice's right-handed bat in there against Price, and it will likely be for designated hitter Mitch Moreland. But Washington hasn't decided if he'll use Choice in the outfield while somebody else serves as the designated hitter.
This will be Choice's first start of the season. That would leave Jim Adduci as the only position player who hasn't started at least one game. But he is 2-for-2 off the bench as a pinch-hitter.
• The Rangers are likely to see right-hander John Lackey, left-hander Felix Doubront and right-hander Jake Peavy during their three-game series against the Red Sox that starts Monday at Fenway Park. They are expected to miss Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester.
• Washington had J.P. Arencibia batting ninth on Friday. Washington said he wanted Donnie Murphy in the seventh spot and he wanted Leony Martin's left-handed bat between those two right-handed pitchers. Said Washington, "I don't know until we get things squared away what it will totally look like, but right now I just wanted to break up those right-handed hitters."
• Pitcher Seth Rosin was born in Fargo, N.D. He is the sixth pitcher born in North Dakota to win a game in the Major Leagues. The all-time leader is former Rangers pitcher Rick Helling, with 93.
• Martin Perez turned 23 on Friday.
• Neftali Feliz made his first relief appearance for Triple-A Round Rock on Thursday and struck out the side in the 10th inning. All three strikeouts were on swing-and-miss fastballs.
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.