Just 21 years old when his dream of making the Rangers' Opening Day roster was shattered by a comebacker that broke his arm, Martin Perez has shown maturity beyond his years.
Instead of letting the setback get him down, the left-hander used the injury as a learning experience -- not just for himself but for other youngsters in the organization.
Now back to full strength, he's ready to contribute again at the big league level.
Perez gave up three hits and recorded seven strikeouts over seven innings Tuesday night as Triple-A Round Rock blanked visiting Reno, 6-0.
"I learned a lot about the experience. I talked with the young players and the other Latin players in Arizona and I told them you have to be strong," MLB.com's No. 89 prospect said. "You have to take the experience and learn. It's part of the game.
"It's hard because you have to be strong in mind. Whatever situation you have in your career, you have to be smart."
Perez entered Spring Training with a shot at the fifth spot in the Rangers rotation, but he was hit on the left forearm by a line drive off the bat of Seattle's Brad Miller on March 3. X-rays revealed a fractured ulna, and Perez was unable to throw in the bullpen until six weeks later.
The Rangers' No. 6 prospect progressed to live batting practice late last month and pitched in extended spring training games in early May. He gave up one run over four innings in his season debut for Double-A Frisco on May 6 but surrendered eight runs over 3 1/3 innings five days later against Corpus Christi.
Despite yielding four runs on seven hits over five innings in his first Triple-A start of the year on May 16, Perez said he felt good. After Tuesday's scoreless effort, it's just about getting the call.
"I feel 100 percent, but they want to see how I can react with my pitches," said Perez, who threw 49 of 77 pitches for strikes and faced one batter over the minimum. "I feel good, 100 percent, but they want me to move slow. Two weeks ago, I felt 100 percent. [Tonight], I could have thrown 100 pitches or 110 pitches, but I want to do what they want.
"I just need to get the opportunity. When I get the opportunity, I want to be ready. If I can't do the job at Triple-A, I can't get to the Majors. I have to do it here to get to the big leagues. When they call me, I have to be ready."
Signed by the Rangers as a non-drafted free agent in 2007, Perez worked around a one-out single in the first inning and teamed with Alex Buchholz to catch Brad Snyder stealing third in the second.
An inning later, Tuffy Gosewisch singled up the middle, but Perez got Taylor Harbin to hit into a double play before setting down his final 13 batters.
"The first inning, base hit. The second inning, base hit. The third inning, base hit. I had to compete more because I didn't want to see more base hits," said Perez, who hopes he will be stretched to 90 or 100 pitches his next time out. "I just wanted to pitch at them and give my team the opportunity to win. I was thinking double play, double play, double play because ... I only had 75 pitches.
"I felt good tonight. I was throwing all of my pitches good. My changeup and curveball are coming back and the fastball had good location."
Aaron Cunningham went 3-for-4 with a double, two RBIs and a run scored for the Express, while Yangervis Solarte had two hits, including a two-run homer.
Reno starter Charles Brewer (2-4) surrendered six runs on 10 hits over six innings.