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Notes: Rangers shuffle pitchers

Notes: Rangers shuffle pitchers

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DETROIT -- The Rangers, not wanting to play a man short, optioned pitcher Scott Feldman to Triple-A Oklahoma on Sunday before he begins serving his six-game suspension. The move created room for left-hander John Koronka, Sunday's starter.

Feldman was supposed to begin his suspension on Tuesday after Vicente Padilla completed his five-game penalty. Players who are suspended cannot be replaced on the roster, so the Rangers would have been left with 24 players while Feldman was suspended.

The Rangers weren't interested in such a situation, even if Feldman's suspension was going to be delayed until his appeal was heard.

The most likely scenario now is that Feldman will keep pitching at Triple-A while having his appeal heard at some point this week, then serve the suspension in September when he is recalled by the Rangers.

Feldman was suspended for hitting Adam Kennedy with a pitch in Wednesday's game against the Los Angeles Angels, a move that started a bench-clearing fracas on the field. Angels relievers Brendan Donnelly and Kevin Gregg were suspended four games for hitting Rangers hitters Michael Young and Freddy Guzman in the same game.

Feldman got an extra two games for his part in the incident with Kennedy, which is why he's appealing the suspension.

"I didn't charge him," Feldman said. "I couldn't just stand there. I should get the same penalty as the Angels pitchers got."

Tejeda earns another start: Robinson Tejeda's performance on Saturday night earned him another start.

Tejeda allowed one run in 6 2/3 innings in a 3-1 victory over the Detroit Tigers and avoided a return to Triple-A when the Rangers called up Koronka on Sunday. The Rangers sent Feldman down instead, leaving Tejeda in the Rangers rotation for now.

"I'm sure he'll start again for us," manager Buck Showalter said. "I'm not sure when."

Right now, the Rangers are planning on using Adam Eaton, Padilla, Kevin Millwood and Edison Volquez in their four-game series against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays starting on Monday. The Rangers will still need a starter for Friday's game against the Oakland Athletics, and that could be either Tejeda or Koronka.

Volquez is dealing with a blood blister on his right hand, but the Rangers don't think that it will keep him from pitching against Tampa Bay. Showalter was sufficiently impressed with what he saw from Tejeda.

"There was a lot to like," Showalter said. "He threw strike one a lot. He had fastball command and he had a lot of life on his fastball."

Littleton continues to emerge: Right-handed reliever Wes Littleton continues to thrive in a prime-time role, getting the final out in the eighth inning on Saturday.

Littleton entered Sunday's game 2-1 with a 1.66 ERA in his 19 appearances since being called up from Triple-A, holding opponents to a .176 batting average. Right-handed hitters were 6-for-48 (.125) off him, while left-handers were 7-for-26.

"I think it's fair to say [that] nobody knew Littleton would be this good," pitching coach Mark Connor said. "We knew his stuff was good, but in Spring Training, he did throw the ball over the plate and he didn't have the stuff that he's featuring now."

Littleton will continue to get assignments in crucial situations, but the sidearming right-hander still wants to prove that he can get left-handed hitters out.

"I'm starting to use my offspeed stuff, and that's helped me," Littleton said. "But this has been awesome. It's good that the manager and coaches have respect for me and confidence in me that I can get people out."

Rupe has role in bullpen: The Rangers may look at moving C.J. Wilson to the rotation next season, but they're not having the same thoughts about Josh Rupe.

The rookie right-hander almost won a job in the Rangers rotation in Spring Training, until he developed serious inflammation in his elbow.

"The biggest thing with Josh is [that] if you start piling pitches on his arm, it becomes a concern," Connor said. "He showed it in Spring Training when his elbow broke down in his fourth start. Luckily, he didn't have to have it surgically repaired. It's safe to say we like Josh in the bullpen more than the starting rotation."

Matching Incaviglia: Mark Teixeira's home run on Saturday gave him 20 for the season and made him the second Ranger to hit at least 20 home runs in his first four seasons in the Major Leagues. Pete Incaviglia hit 20 or home runs in his first five seasons from 1986-90. Among active players, Albert Pujols is the last player to hit at least 20 home runs in his first four seasons. The Cardinals first baseman has achieved the feat in six straight years.

Briefly: Right-hander Eric Hurley allowed one unearned run in six innings in Double-A Friso's 3-1 victory over Springfield on Saturday night, and he's now 3-1 with a 1.95 ERA in five starts for the RoughRiders. The only concern is that Hurley had some trouble with a ribcage muscle in Saturday's start. ... Jerry Hairston picked up another assist from the outfield on Saturday, giving him seven for the season in just 34 games. He entered Sunday tied for 10th in the American League. ... The Rangers went into Sunday's game leading the AL with 30 outfield assists. The club record is 51, set in 1976.

Coming up: The Rangers will open a four-game series with at Tampa Bay at 6:15 p.m. CT on Monday. Right-hander Adam Eaton (3-2, 3.86 ERA) will start for the Rangers against Rays right-hander James Shields (5-6, 4.75 ERA). The Rangers are 5-0 against the Rays this season, winning twice at Tropicana Field.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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