Rangers option Chi Chi, recall Ranaudo

Club has options to fill wide-open fifth rotation spot

Rangers option Chi Chi, recall Ranaudo

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers won't need a fifth starter until July 21, but the job is now wide open.

The Rangers created the opening by sending rookie right-hander Chi Chi Gonzalez back to Triple-A Round Rock and recalling right-hander Anthony Ranaudo. The Rangers called up Ranaudo to be a long reliever because Anthony Bass was needed for 4 1/3 innings and 86 pitches in Friday's 8-2 loss to the Angels.

Gonzalez was sent down after going 0-3 with a 10.13 ERA in his last three starts. He was 2-4 with a 3.74 ERA in seven starts overall, winning his first two outings.

"This gives him the opportunity to go down and work on things that will make him more effective at the Major League level," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "My message to him is delay, not denial. It's all part of the process. We still believe in him as one of the winning pieces on the trek to where we want to go."

Gonzalez could be a candidate to return the rotation on July 21. The other candidates are Ranaudo, Nick Martinez and Martin Perez.

"We have a number of guys we can utilize in that spot," Banister said. "How that configures right now, I can't give you a solid answer."

Martinez was optioned to Triple-A on Thursday with a record of 5-5 and a 3.74 ERA. The Rangers wanted to give Martinez a break and manage his innings in his second year in the Major Leagues. A three-week break should be more than sufficient.

Perez has made four starts on a rehab assignment, as he finishes his recovery from Tommy John surgery. He has room for two more starts before the Rangers have to make a decision on his status. But Perez has an option left so the Rangers do not have to automatically activate him at the end of his assignment.

Ranaudo also has options, which is why he was called up for the third time this season. He has become a swing man for the Rangers staff. The first two times he was called up was to make a spot start. This time it is to work out of the bullpen.

"It's definitely interesting … part of the game," Ranaudo said. "I just want to be a part of the team. I have been a starter my whole career, but any part of the team is fine with me."

Gonzalez has struggled lately, but has room to get two starts at Round Rock before the Rangers need a fifth starter. Gonzalez said the biggest thing missing right now is fastball command.

"If I can command my fastball like I did my first two outings, that's how I can succeed," Gonzalez said. "I've got to get back to the gameplan. Once I do that, I would love a chance to come back and compete."

The Rangers also still need to look at Matt Harrison. They have pushed him back to Wednesday, when he will make his first start in the Major Leagues in 14 months.

The Rangers pushed Harrison back so they could get two starts out of Yovani Gallardo before the All-Star break. Gallardo, who has pitched 29 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings, will pitch Tuesday against the D-backs and Sunday against the Padres.

By pitching Sunday against the Padres, Gallardo would not be eligible to pitch in the All-Star Game the following Tuesday if selected. Gallardo is probably a longshot to make the team, but his streak has left him 7-6 with a 2.56 ERA, fourth best in the American League.

"I think he is a serious candidate to be an All-Star," Banister said. "But we are in the business of winning games. As much it would be a great honor -- I hope it happens -- but our uniform counts too."

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