Yohander Mendez needs help to get back on the track that the Texas Rangers believe can carry him to a permanent stay in the major leagues, and the plan the Rangers announced Friday is about that and not further disciplining a young pitcher.
Mendez was sent to High A Down East, where he will start Monday one week after he drank himself into a stupor after a Rangers win at Kansas City. His actions that night ran afoul of team rules and resulted in an immediate demotion to Triple A Round Rock.
But assistant general manager Jayce Tinger insisted that Mendez's new development plan is not another penalty for his misdeeds, which did not involved police intervention.
"Down East is not a punishment," Tingler said. "It's a place where he can focus on his job, get back to some simplicity in baseball, and eliminate some noise and distractions."
"The program is all about helping Yohander. It gives him an opportunity to get back to the basics, to build that strong foundation, and focus on how he approaches his craft. It's building in a solid routine on and off the field with preparation and putting a focus on purpose in everything he does."
Tingler said that Mendez "has been embracing" the Rangers' plan, which in the beginning will be based on work ethic and adherence to the plan. The results will become a factor as he climbs step by step through the system.
Manager Jeff Banister said that there is enough time for Mendez to pitch for the Rangers again this season.
He was pitching for them despite lousy numbers with Round Rock (0-6, 5.26 ERA) in 10 starts. At the time of the promotion, it was said that Mendez would be getting an extended look in the majors.
Mendez's first career start came Friday, and it wasn't good. He allowed six runs in three innings before the Rangers went to the bullpen, but the initial plan was for him to start the series finale Wednesday at Kansas City.
"We were prepared for his start on Wednesday," Tingler said. "The organization decided he wasn't ready for Wednesday."
Mendez has some baseball things to address, but he must also be better with his routine. That includes just about everything — from preparation to strength training to life skills. To that end, special assignments coach Roy Silver will spend time with Mendez at Down East.
Silver is known mostly for his work with Josh Hamilton and Matt Bush, who both dealt with substance-abuse issues. That isn't the case with Mendez, and Silver will help teach him how to be professional.
"It's going to be more on the mental aspect and using his baseball-lifer experience a little bit," Tingler said.