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Mendez added to rotation as Rangers ship Moore to bullpen

Yohander Mendez has pitched for the Rangers in relief the past three seasons but on Friday is scheduled to make is first career start.
Yohander Mendez has pitched for the Rangers in relief the past three seasons but on Friday is scheduled to make is first career start. mfaulkner@star-telegram.com

Yohander Mendez, the Texas Rangers' most advanced pitching prospect, will make his first career start Friday in place of fellow left-hander Matt Moore, manager Jeff Banister said.

And it won't just be a spot start for Mendez. The Rangers are officially in a development mode, and he is now part of that.

"I think we'll have Mendy in there to get and extended look at him," Banister said.

The decision was announced Tuesday, when Banister also revealed that the Rangers also need a starter for Sunday as Bartolo Colon gets extra rest. While he didn't announce that, signs point to it being veteran right-hander Yovani Gallardo.

The Fort Worth resident can opt out of his minor-league contract Friday, but the starter-thin Rangers can't afford to see a capable starter leave the organization with righty Doug Fister on the disabled list, Moore in the bullpen and Wednesday starter Cole Hamels on the trading block.

There is still no timetable for lefty Martin Perez, out since April 30 because of issues with his right elbow, to return from the DL.

"We're still in the business of winning baseball games," Banister said. "When you're developing players, yes, it's about development, but this is the big leagues and you're still giving yourself an opportunity to when baseball games. There will be some challenging moments along the way, as there have been."

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Banister said that the recent reports on Mendez at Triple A Round Rock have been good, better than his numbers would suggest. Mendez is 0-6 with a 5.26 ERA and a 1.60 WHIP but has issued four earned runs or fewer in each of his past five starts and two or fewer walks in four of the past five.

The Rangers recalled Mendez in April for a brief stint, and he had a scoreless appearance that covered two-thirds of an inning.

"He threw the ball well for us," Banister said. "Fastball command [has been good]. The breaking ball has been sharper. Just the overall intent to pitch has been good as well."

The door to starting later in the season isn't closed to Moore, who is carrying a 7.88 ERA. Banister said that the move to the bullpen is designed to give Moore a chance to continue to clean up his delivery and possibly add deception to it to give hitters a harder time picking up the ball.

"He's got four quality major-league pitches," Banister said. "This is not a move where we're putting him out there to stay."

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