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Martin Perez Jimenez
- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 6' 0", Weight 180 lb.
Signed by scouts Rafic Saab and Don Welke for the Rangers in 2007, he made his pro debut the next summer with the Spokane Indians. The youngest player in the Northwest League at age 17, he went 1-2 with a 3.65 ERA in 15 starts. He began 2009 with the Hickory Crawdads, going 5-5 with a 2.31 ERA in 22 outings for the club before being promoted to the AA Frisco RoughRiders for the final month of the season. Back with Frisco in 2010, he was 5-8 with a 5.96 ERA in 24 games despite two stints on the disabled list.
Perez began 2011 back with the RoughRiders and threw a 6-inning, rain-shortened perfect game on April 19th against the Arkansas Travelers. Overall, he was 4-2 with a 3.16 ERA in 17 appearances for Frisco, and he was the winning pitcher in the Texas League All-Star Game. After also appearing in the 2011 Futures Game, he moved up to the AAA Round Rock Express, going 4-4 with a 6.43 ERA in 10 starts. He went 5-5 with a 4.59 ERA in 15 starts for the Express to start 2012 before being called up to the majors by Texas in late June. He made his big league debut on June 27th against the Detroit Tigers, allowing an earned run in two-thirds of an inning of relief work. He made 12 appearances, 6 of them starts, for the Rangers, going 1-4, 5.45, and pitching 38 innings in the big leagues.
Perez suffered a broken forearm in spring training in 2013, when he was hit on the wrist by a line drive off the bat of Brad Miller of the Seattle Mariners on March 3rd; he was in line to win the Rangers' fifth starter job before the injury, but instead was put on the shelf for two months. He joined the Rangers for a one-off start in a doubleheader on May 27th, losing, 5-3, to the Arizona Diamondbacks, then returned for good at the end of June. On August 11th, he recorded the first complete game of his career in a 6-1 win over the Houston Astros; he was in fact one strike away from a shutout, but Chris Carter hit a solo homer, for only the fourth Astros hit of the day. He was named the American League Rookie of the Month for August, finishing the month with a record of 5-0 and a 3.06 ERA in 35 1/3 innings. He went into double figures for wins on September 25th when he defeated the Astros, 7-3, with the Rangers trying desperately to hang on in the AL wild card race. He finished the year at 10-6, 3.62 in 20 starts, pitching 124 1/3 innings.
The Rangers rewarded Martin for his break-out season by offering him a four-year contract for $12.5 million before the 2014 season. He gave some ammunition to those who claimed that in spite of its size, the contract was below market value, by starting the year on all cylinders. He had a 26-inning scoreless streak over four starts in April and won his first four decisions of the year before suffering his first loss and snapping the streak on April 29th in a 9-3 loss to the Oakland A's. His record had stood at 4-0, 1.42 heading into that game. However, things went downhill quickly from that point as he lost his next two starts, being hit hard both times, to move his record to 4-3, 4.38. He was placed on the disabled list on May 14th with a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow, with Tommy John surgery on the horizon.
Perez's recovery from the surgery went as planned, and he was back with the team in time to make the Rangers' first start following the All-Star break on July 17, 2015. He had a tremendous game to claim his first win of the year on August 2nd as he allowed only 2 hits in 8 1/3 innings, in defeating the San Francisco Giants, 2-1. He had a one-hitter entering the 9th inning before a one-out double by Angel Pagan caused him to give way to Sam Dyson, who then earned his first career save.
On June 24, 2017, he joined the list of players having been sidelined by an unusual injury when he was placed on the disabled list with a thumb injury which was the result of accidentally jamming the finger in a door at the team's hotel. He was 4-6, 4.70 at the time, then after missing a few games, came back in early July. A four-game losing streak in late July almost torpedoed his season, as he was 5-10, 5.46 after an 8-4 loss to the Minnesota Twins on August 4th. But he began a remarkable turnaround beginning with his next start. On September 8th, he defeated the New York Yankees, 11-5, for his seventh straight winning start, one short of the team record. He finished at 13-12, 4.82, leading the team in wins and also in starts (32).
Following the 2017 season, he broke his non-pitching elbow in an incident with a bull. He was working on his ranch in Venezuela when he was startled by the animal and fell on his elbow. The injury was expected to keep him out of action until April, delaying the start of his 2018 season. He made his spring training debut on March 18th and explained that he had gotten revenge on the animal by having it slaughtered and eating it. “It was good meat,” he explained.