ARLINGTON — Martin Perez is returning to the rotation.The Texas Rangers announced after Thursday’s game that Perez, who has long been considered the team’s top pitching prospect, will start Saturday in St. Louis.Nick Tepesch will be pushed back a day to Sunday, and Yu Darvish will get a couple extra days and start Tuesday, when the Rangers open a three-game series at Yankee Stadium.Perez, 22, has gone 4-0 with a 1.13 ERA in four starts at Triple A Round Rock since his season debut May 27 on the front end of a doubleheader at Arizona. In that game, Perez gave up nine hits and four runs in 5 1/3 innings of a 5-3 Rangers loss.“I’ve never felt more comfortable than this year,” said Perez, who suffered a broken left arm in spring training. “I’m going to keep my same approach as I have in Triple A. It’s the same ball, same game.”Manager Ron Washington said the Rangers are simply going with the “hot hand” by inserting Perez into the rotation.So the rotation for St. Louis will be Derek Holland tonight, Perez on Saturday and Tepesch on Sunday. Darvish will throw Tuesday, and then it would be Justin Grimm’s turn.Josh Lindblom is no longer an option as the Rangers will send him back to Triple A Round Rock to clear a roster spot for first baseman Mitch Moreland.Returning to STLThere aren’t many fond memories of St. Louis for the Rangers. That’s the site of the crushing loss in the 2011 World Series.The Rangers were a strike away twice in what would have been a series-clinching Game 6 but let it slip away. They then lost Game 7 and will return for the first time this weekend.“I have good memories; I have bad memories,” said Nelson Cruz, who couldn’t track down a deep fly ball that would have won the series in Game 6. “Let the bad ones go away.”Said Elvis Andrus: “You’re always going to go back and think about it, but it’s in the past. Everybody has kind of healed from that series and now it’s just another game during the season.”Ron Washington said he wouldn’t have any “flashbacks” to the gut-wrenching series, but David Murphy said it’d be hard not to think about it when he sets foot again in Busch Stadium.“The natural reaction and thought process is to think they’re going to be negative thoughts, but I’m going to remember some of the greatest baseball that I ever witnessed on that field,” Murphy said. “Things didn’t turn out the way we wanted to when we played in 2011, but there was some great baseball played there.”For a couple Rangers, though, it’ll bring back positive memories. Lance Berkman and Kyle McClellan each have World Series rings as they were part of the ’11 Cardinals.McClellan wasn’t on the World Series roster because of an injury but certainly played a pivotal role on the team by winning 12 regular-season games as a fill-in for Adam Wainwright.“It’s definitely exciting to go back there,” McClellan said. “Even though I wasn’t on the World Series roster, I had a huge part in us doing that. We got in the last day, and if it wasn’t for one win I don’t get, we’re not in.”Lineup mattersNelson Cruz stayed in the three-hole for a second consecutive game Thursday as he had three hits in that spot Wednesday.“I’m sorry I never thought of putting him in there before,” Ron Washington said. “I’m always thinking about protecting [Adrian] Beltre. For some reason, I got locked in on him only protecting Beltre.”Lance Berkman has been the No. 3 batter for most of the season, but he is struggling. Washington gave him Thursday off “to keep him fresh.”Berkman should have an extended break, too, as he isn’t expected to start at first base in St. Louis with Mitch Moreland returning.Moreland, on the disabled list with a right hamstring strain, went 6 for 12 with three doubles and a home run over three rehab games at Double A Frisco.“He did what he should against that young pitching: eat it up,” Washington said.Injury reportJoakim Soria, 14 months removed from Tommy John elbow surgery and a pectoral strain, began his road back to the big leagues Thursday night with his first medical rehabilitation assignment at Double A Frisco. He is expected to remain with the Rough Riders for the short term and could spend time at Triple A Round Rock.Soria likely won’t be ready until after the All-Star break, though, as he needs to accumulate about 10 innings and throw on consecutive days before returning.Alexi Ogando, on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation, played long toss at 150-feet Thursday and is expected to repeat that today in St. Louis. The hope is he’ll progress to a bullpen session in the next few days after that.Colby Lewis threw a bullpen session with no issues Thursday, and Neftali Feliz will throw his second 25-pitch bullpen session today in Surprise.Briefly• Derek Holland, who starts Friday at St. Louis, on how he’d celebrate his first big-league hit: “I’d do a cartwheel and backflip, in that order.”• Right-handed reliever Ben Rowen was promoted from Double A Frisco to Triple A Round Rock. He was 3-0 with a 0.53 ERA over 31 appearances with the Rough Riders.• Nelson Cruz drove in his 50th run Wednesday. The only other players to reach 50 RBIs in 72 games or fewer the past two seasons were Adrian Beltre (2011) and Josh Hamilton (2012).
Drew Davison, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @drewdavison