Gonzalez to get start in place of Hamels

Gonzalez to get start in place of Hamels

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Rangers plan to call up right-hander Chi Chi Gonzalez to pitch on Thursday against the Twins. Gonzalez will replace Cole Hamels, who is missing a start because of a sore left groin muscle.

Gonzalez will make his first Major League start since July 3. He was sent down after going 2-4 with a 3.74 ERA in seven starts. The other choice was Anthony Ranaudo.

"It was the body of work for Chi Chi when he was here, what he has been doing lately and the combination of the reports we're getting from our scouts," manager Jeff Banister said. "All the arrows pointed in his direction."

This could be just a spot start for Gonzalez if Hamels is ready to go next Tuesday against the Mariners in Arlington. So far the Rangers have shown no concerns about Hamels missing more than one start.

"I'm sure if I do anything well, it will give them a tough reason to send me back," Gonzalez said. "I just want to be successful and do well and leave that in their hands. I haven't heard anything so I will just go out there and do my job."

Gonzalez was 2-2 with a 4.00 ERA in five starts at Triple-A Round Rock, where the Rangers wanted him to work on the "separation" of his pitches. Gonzalez's two best pitches are his fastball and a hard slider. The Rangers would like him to keep working on his changeup and curve to start getting more swings and misses.

"I have been throwing the curveball more, learning to mix it in and when to mix it in," Gonzalez said.

Of the 93 pitchers who have made at least seven starts in the American League, Gonzalez has the lowest strikeouts per nine innings (3.12). Hitters also swing and miss at just 14.6 percent of his pitches, the fourth lowest.

Better off-speed pitches would help Gonzalez improve on those numbers and his overall game.

"He's not exactly where he wants to be but he is going to be fun to watch," Banister said.

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.