ARLINGTON -- Rookie right-hander Nick Martinez will return to the Rangers' rotation when he pitches against the Blue Jays on Sunday in the finale of the three-game series.
Martinez will be opposed by right-handed knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, who has returned to top form in his last five starts after a slow beginning to the season.
Martinez made two starts early in the season while the Rangers were dealing with some injuries in the rotation. When starters Colby Lewis and Matt Harrison returned from the disabled list, Martinez was shifted to the bullpen. Now he is back in the rotation with Harrison likely out for the season because of more back issues.
"Well I guess it's an opportunity," Martinez said. "It's unfortunate that [Harrison] went down. He's a guy that you definitely want on your staff, but it is what it is and someone's gotta rise up to the occasion and hopefully I can do that tomorrow.
"Obviously as a starter you kind of get into a set routine, but I think as a reliever, we found a routine for me similar to my routine as a starter. I was still throwing bullpens, just lighter bullpens -- kinda halfway, touch and feels. So it's not too much of a big transition, but I think I'll be alright."
Martinez's last start was on April 22. Since then he has thrown 11 2/3 innings over five relief appearances, but the Rangers are hoping he can at least give them five innings on Sunday.
"I was still throwing even when I went in for five innings and an inning here and there," Martinez said. "I still throw my touch and feels just to make sure I get extended out, that way I can still pitch four or five, maybe six innings."
Dickey began the season going 1-3 with a 6.19 ERA in his first four starts. He is 3-0 with a 2.64 ERA in his last five starts after a 5-4 victory over the Indians on Tuesday. He went six innings and allowed four runs, two earned.
"I'm making strides," Dickey said. "If I can eliminate [the walks], I can have some fun this year. But as far as the way [the knuckleball] felt out of my hand, I was very encouraged and the last four times through I feel like I've been taking some positive steps and I feel like I've been pitching even better than my lines have been showing. That's always encouraging."
One difference from last season is Dickey is not giving up as many home runs. He allowed 35 home runs in 34 starts last season. He has allowed three in nine starts this year. His 1.40 home runs per nine innings last season were the third highest in the A.L. This year, he has the tenth lowest at 0.53 home runs per nine innings.
"I just think feeling better," Dickey said in explaining the improvement. "Early on in the year last year, I wasn't feeling great and I feel like I'm off to a much better start this year. I'm traditionally a slow starter but I'm better [this year]. ... And a lot of that has to do with keeping the ball in the ballpark. Especially with runners on. Last year, I was giving up two and three-run home runs with frequency. It's encouraging to punch people out and keep people off base and feel crisp."
Rangers: Fielder the latest casualty
The Rangers will be without first baseman Prince Fielder on Sunday as he recovers from stiffness in his neck. He had a nerve-blocking injection on Friday and is not expected to be available until Tuesday.
Mitch Moreland is expected to start at first base for the second straight game on Sunday. Manager Ron Washington said the Rangers will continue to make the best of the situation.
"My concern is with the guys we have, not the guys we lost," Washington said. "We have a schedule to play so we have to show up and put a lineup out there. We'll deal with what we have in front of us. My wish list is not working."
Blue Jays: Gose getting a shot
An injury to Colby Rasmus has opened the door for Anthony Gose to prove his worth at the next level. Gose is only 23 but has already spent parts of three seasons in the big leagues. This year is easily his most important as there could be a pair of openings in the Blue Jays' outfield this offseason when Rasmus and Melky Cabrera hit free agency.
Gose always has the ability to change a game with his defense, but it will be his offense that will dictate just how much upside he has in the Major Leagues.
"The thing is, he has to find ways to get on base," Gibbons said. "If he doesn't hit a lot, or if he just holds his own, he has to get some walks too and things like that because his game is scoring runs.
"There are growing pains when you get to the big leagues at a young age because the pitching is pretty good. Like last night ... [Gose] lays down that nice bunt and gets that thing going. That's part of his game, he has to do that."
• The Rangers are expected to make a roster move before Sunday's game and likely will call up outfielder Daniel Robertson. The Rangers have been going with eight relievers and three bench players over the last week. They had just two healthy bench players on Saturday because Prince Fielder was sidelined with a neck problem.
• The Rangers are 5-5 in day games while the Blue Jays are 5-7.
• With Prince Fielder sidelined with a stiff neck, shortstop Elvis Andrus and outfielder Alex Rios are the only two Rangers who have started every game. Andrus has started 67 straight games at shortstop going back to last year.
• Dickey is one of two former Rangers draft picks who will be in the lineup for the Blue Jays on Sunday. The other is first baseman Edwin Encarnacion, who was drafted by the Rangers in the ninth round in 2000 and later traded to the Reds one year later while still in the Minor Leagues.
• Jose Bautista has reached base in all but one of the Blue Jays' 44 games this season. With a homer during the first inning of Saturday night's game, Bautista also has at least one hit in 32 games this year.
• Dating back to April 22, the Blue Jays have homered in 20 of their past 25 games. The 39 home runs since that point leads the American League and is second in the Majors.