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Tepesch ready to step in for Perez

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HOUSTON -- After recovering from a rough spring while getting off to a terrific start at Triple-A Round Rock, right-hander Nick Tepesch will return to the Rangers' rotation to pitch against the Astros on Wednesday at Minute Maid Park.

Tepesch replaces Martin Perez, who will likely go on the disabled list with a sore left elbow, although the Rangers haven't made a final decision. Tepesch was 6-1 with a 1.58 ERA in seven starts at Round Rock. Opponents hit .218 off him with nine walks and 41 strikeouts in 45 2/3 innings.

"It was just a matter of commanding all of my pitches, consistently commanding them in the zone," Tepesch said. "That's probably the biggest thing."

Tepesch was 4-6 with a 4.84 ERA in 17 starts and two relief appearances for the Rangers last season while missing most of the second half with inflammation in his elbow. He came to camp as a candidate for the rotation but was one of the first players sent down after posting an 11.90 ERA in three outings.

"I didn't expect to make the team pitching that way," Tepesch said. "I don't put the blame on anybody else. You just challenge yourself. Why did I pitch like this? You just think about different things and what was the reason, try to pinpoint that and address it."

Tepesch still relies on a sinking fastball as well as his slider and curve. The Rangers wanted him to work on his changeup, a pitch he threw just 4.7 percent of the time last year, but it is still a work in progress.

"We still want him to use his changeup more, but he wasn't down there to develop," manager Ron Washington said. "He was down there to get people out, and he was getting people out."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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