SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Nate Robertson hasn't pitched in the big leagues since 2010, but he's feeling more confident than ever that will change after this spring.
The former Tigers left-hander reinvented himself during the offseason, opting to change his arm angle to slightly below three-quarters, making him more of a threat to get left-handed hitters out late in ballgames.
Robertson, whose career was derailed by elbow problems, has impressed this spring with three shutout innings, during which he allowed two hits.
"I've had some elbow issues in the past, and I felt like in the last several years my ball has flattened out quite a bit," the 33-year-old Robertson said. "Now, it's just a different look. But with the arm slot, the movement in the zone is big."
He feels the new arm slot provides him two things that had been lacking during the past two seasons -- seasons he spent in the farm systems of the Mariners, Cubs and Blue Jays. First, it creates an element of deception to his delivery. Second, it adds movement to his pitches -- more sink on his fastball and more bite on his breaking ball.
Robertson's best season came in 2006, when he posted a 3.84 ERA and a 13-13 record, earning the Tigers' Game 1 start in the first two rounds of the playoffs. After that, he fell off considerably as a starter, forcing him to reinvent himself. The Rangers sent a scout to watch him during the offseason and opted to take a chance on him as a non-roster invitee.
The Rangers' No. 5 starter role is up for grabs, but Robertson said he's focused on his job as a reliever, and the Rangers haven't approached him with any suggestions otherwise. He says that's probably for the best.
"I came in here with a plan of what I was trying to be," Robertson said. "Obviously there were needs here in the bullpen in Texas. With that match, they brought me in."
As a starter, Robertson's numbers were considerably better against left-handed hitters, but manager Ron Washington said he wouldn't see a problem using Robertson against righties, too. As for Robertson's new, crafty approach to the mound, Washington had nothing but praise.
"He's out here competing with a changed style, and he's making it work," Washington said. "... We know he knows how to pitch. He knows how to win at the Major League level, and he's not afraid to use what he has right now."
Perez remains upbeat after fracturing arm
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- For a big league pitcher, it's never a good time to be struck by a line drive in the pitching arm, causing a bone break. But the timing really couldn't have been much worse for Rangers prospect Martin Perez.
The 21-year-old left-hander had staked his claim as a frontrunner for the Rangers' No. 5 spot in the rotation with an impressive spring. Now he'll be out at least until May with a fractured left forearm. Fortunately for Texas, it's not a complete break.
An upbeat Perez spoke with reporters before the Rangers' workout on Monday morning, saying there's nothing he can do about the injury -- which occurred during Sunday's 7-6 loss to the Mariners -- except stay positive in his recovery.
"I don't want to think a lot about [the injury]," Perez said. "I just want to be focused on what I need to do to be ready in a couple months and help the team."
Perez will be out of action for four weeks before he begins his recovery. The club is hopeful he'll at least be able to do shoulder and elbow exercises during that time, because the cast on his left arm extends down his forearm.
Perez, Texas' No. 6 prospect according to MLB.com's Prospect Watch , tossed two scoreless innings against Colorado in his spring debut. He had allowed a run against Seattle and was into his second inning of work when the ball struck him.
"When I moved my hand [after being struck], I felt a little break," Perez said. "When the doctor said, 'OK, you have to take four weeks,' I said, 'OK, I'm done for this month,' and I set my mind to what I need to do now."
In a brief stint last season with the big league club, Perez went 1-4 with a 5.45 ERA. He made 12 appearances -- six as a starter and six out of the 'pen. Manager Ron Washington praised the way Perez handled his injury, pointing to what he saw last year as the beginning of Perez's maturity.
"The results may not have been there, but he was out there competing," Washington said. "You begin to believe that you can. Once you get that feeling inside of you, then maturity begins to show."
Perez said he was overwhelmed by all the support he received from teammates in the clubhouse and fans on Twitter. He noted that the situation is a new one for him because he's never been injured for an extended period of time before -- not even in Little League.
Darvish keeps spring hitless streak intact
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Aesthetically, it may not have been a thing of beauty, but Yu Darvish emerged from his second Cactus League start unscathed and his hitless spring still intact.
The Rangers right-hander threw 39 pitches -- 23 for strikes -- blanking the Padres for three innings while surrendering two walks. Darvish has now thrown five spring innings without allowing a hit.
"The definition of a good pitcher is to get outs when you don't have your good stuff, and I think I did that today," Darvish said through translator Kenji Nimura.
Darvish never felt totally comfortable gripping the baseball Monday. The only pitch he found a groove with was his slider, which he said he used more frequently than usual. The highlight of Darvish's afternoon was getting Padres first baseman Kyle Blanks' knees to buckle on a 1-2 slider with a fierce bite in the second inning.
"He said he didn't feel as comfortable as possible," said Rangers catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who is new to working with Darvish after signing with Texas in the offseason. "But he had three shutout innings with no hits, so he looked pretty good."
Darvish had nothing but good things to say about his new batterymate after his second time throwing to the former White Sox backstop.
"He's a great person, he's a great communicator and I feel really comfortable throwing to him," Darvish said.
Darvish had been experimenting a little with a changeup, but he threw it only once on Monday and said it's not a pitch he plans to throw in a meaningful game any time soon.
• With Perez out, Washington said the Rangers are still currently "covered" internally in their search for a No. 5 starter. He mentioned the familiar names for the competition: right-handers Randy Wells, Kyle McClellan, Justin Grimm and Nick Tepesch and left-hander Robbie Ross.
• Washington is giving the team a full day off on Tuesday, with no one scheduled to report to the club's training complex. His plans? "First thing, I'm going to get a haircut, and then I'll figure it out from there."
• Neftali Feliz, coming off Tommy John surgery last Aug. 1, threw from 75 feet for the first time on Monday.