With something to prove coming into Spring Training, Roberto Hernandez has done nothing but impress the Rays and manager Joe Maddon in his first season with the club.
"He's feeling good about himself. He's shown great stuff. All through camp, he had really good stuff," Maddon said. "I'm always eager to watch this guy pitch."
Hernandez, a right-hander, made his first start with Tampa Bay on Thursday, allowing four earned runs in 6 2/3 innings in a loss to the Orioles. He also struck out seven and walked just two.
The Rays are hoping for a solid performance, when Hernandez takes the hill on Tuesday against the Rangers.
"That would be outstanding," Maddon said. "Just pound the zone with his fastball. Mixing his other pitches. Get the ground balls."
Hernandez will be up against Rangers right-hander Nick Tepesch, who will make his Major League debut after winning the job out of Spring Training.
Tepesch went 0-1 with a 6.50 ERA in five spring games (three starts). Starting for Triple-A Round Rock last Thursday, Tepesch worked five innings, allowing one unearned run on five hits in the win.
A 14th-round Draft pick out of the University of MIssouri, the right-hander went 11-6 with a 3.67 ERA in 28 Minor League games last season.
"The best thing we can do is let him go on out there and figure it out for himself," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "Just trust what he's got. We trusted it, that's why he's here."
Rays: Chirinos traded to Rangers
Catcher Robinson Chirinos was traded to the Rangers on Monday for a player to be named or cash considerations.
Chirinos was designated for assignment on March 31, when the Rays set their Opening Day roster. The 28-year-old didn't play last season, as he worked his way back from a concussion sustained when he took a foul tip off his mask last Spring Training.
Chris Gimenez, Triple-A Durham's starting catcher, should be next in line to fill in for Jose Molina or Jose Lobaton if either is injured.
Rangers: Darvish not expected to miss time
While Yu Darvish left his Sunday start against the Angels after just five innings because of a blister, he's still expected to make his next start.
"We'll take care of it," Washington said before Monday night's series opener with Tampa Bay. "It came apart in the fifth. "He always wants to continue, but he doesn't have anything to prove to us, so we shut him down. He could have taken the ball and gone out there, and probably got through the [sixth] inning, but maybe there would have been more damage."
• Left-hander Matt Harrison came out of his last start on Saturday against the Angels with lower back pain and hasn't been back on the field for the last two days as he undergoes treatment. However, he's still expected to make his next start at Seattle on Thursday.
• Texas won its first two series of the season, marking the third straight year the team has done so.
• Hernandez is 2-8 with a 5.37 ERA in 12 career starts against Texas, but he is 2-2 with a 3.73 ERA in five starts at Rangers Ballpark.
Quinn Roberts is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.