ARLINGTON -- It didn't seem out of the question that Luis Mendoza would take Kason Gabbard's place in the rotation based on the left-hander's performance on Friday night. Instead, an injury has facilitated the move. Gabbard felt some discomfort in his throwing elbow on Friday night and was been placed on the 15-day disabled list with inflammation in his left elbow.
The Rangers recalled right-hander Warner Madrigal from Triple-A Oklahoma to take Gabbard's spot on the roster, and manager Ron Washington announced that Mendoza would start in Gabbard's place on Wednesday against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Washington also indicated that the spot in the rotation is now Mendoza's to lose.
"Without a doubt," Washington said. "He shouldn't pitch himself out of it. He's in the rotation, barring any health issues. "I think he's shown us what he showed us in Spring Training, and shown us why he was in our rotation coming out of Spring Training. He's going to be a part of our rotation for a long time to come and he's healthy now, so now's the time to get him back in there." Mendoza went 0-2 in three starts in April before a finger blister landed him on the disabled list, and a sore shoulder kept him there. But Mendoza has recovered and is ready to join the rotation. "Oh yeah," Mendoza said. "Wherever they want to use me -- I'll pitch in the bullpen or as a starter. Right now I'm 100 percent. Now I can just go out there and pitch." As for Gabbard, his elbow started acting up during his outing on Friday night when he allowed six runs, one earned, in 3 1/3 innings. Washington said the pain in Gabbard's elbow hadn't subsided by Saturday. "He felt some sharp pains in his elbow so we decided to shut him down," Washington said. The bum elbow helps explain why Gabbard could only throw 39 of his 84 pitches for strikes on Friday, walking five batters. For the season he has 39 walks to 33 strikeouts. As a result, Washington has no reservations about turning to Mendoza. The Rangers recalled Mendoza on June 20 and has gone 1-0 since his recall, with a save in six shutout innings over two appearances. In those six innings, he's allowed only three hits and he has five strikeouts to zero walks. Madrigal will replace Mendoza in the bullpen and provide long relief. "We wanted someone who could give us some extension," Washington said. Madrigal is in just his second full professional season as a pitcher since converting from the outfield and has split time this season between Double-A Frisco and Oklahoma. Madrigal was 1-0 with 14 saves and a 3.00 ERA in 36 innings combined at Double-A and Triple-A. He's struck out 43 batters, compared to his 16 walks. Madrigal had converted four of five save opportunities with Oklahoma, and recorded a 3.98 ERA in 17 appearances. He had scored upon just once in his last eight outings. Mendoza was available out of the bullpen on Saturday. He'll begin preparation for his start in New York. Mendoza will face Sidney Ponson, who was released by the Rangers on June 16 because of some off-field issues. "I'm not intimidated," Mendoza said. "I just want to pitch, so I'm excited."
Shawn Shroyer is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.