Ponson to make first start Sunday

Ponson to pitch Sunday in first start for Texas

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- One week after agreeing to a Minor League contract, Sidney Ponson is getting his first start for the Rangers.

Ponson is scheduled to start for the Rangers on Sunday against the Athletics in Phoenix. He replaces Vicente Padilla, who will pitch in a Minor League game instead. Padilla left his last start with a strained hip muscle -- but that's not why he's skipping the Athletics. The Rangers want to see Ponson pitch again after he pitched two scoreless innings against the Cubs on Wednesday.

"There is some significance," pitching coach Mark Connor said. "We like what we saw the other day and want to see if it will continue. He's not a rookie and he's not 38 years old. He's 31 and he's got experience in the big leagues. He's capable of being a pretty good pitcher."

Ponson is competing with Luis Mendoza for the fifth spot in the rotation that came open when Brandon McCarthy went down with an elbow injury. Mendoza is still in the running and will start on Tuesday against the Athletics in Surprise.

Eric Hurley is also getting one more start. He is scheduled to start on Saturday against the Rockies, while Kevin Millwood, C.J. Wilson and Joaquin Benoit pitch in a Triple A-game. Millwood is almost completely recovered from a strained hamstring muscle but the Rangers are still playing it cautious.

Two fifth starter candidates were eliminated on Friday. Pitchers A.J. Murray and Matt Harrison were sent to the Minor Leagues on Friday. Catcher Taylor Teagarden, first baseman Nate Gold, outfielder Brandon Boggs and reliever Warner Madrigal were also sent to the Minor Leagues.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.