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04/08/08 3:05 PM ET

Mendoza on his way to returning

Fifth starter on DL due to blister on right middle finger

ARLINGTON -- Rangers broadcaster Eric Nadel beat fifth starter Luis Mendoza to the mound this year.

Nadel, beginning his 30th season as a Rangers broadcaster, was accorded the honor of throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before Tuesday's game with the Orioles. Mendoza had to settle for being introduced with the rest of the team.

"It's just an incredible privilege and honor to be part of the great tradition of Opening Day," Nadel said. "To be in the company of the people who have thrown out the ceremonial first pitch -- presidents, vice presidents, Tom Landry, firemen and rescue workers -- is awesome."

Nadel was high and wide with his first pitch.

Mendoza was much more on target in his medical rehabilitation assignment start for Triple-A Oklahoma on Monday. Pitching against Nashville in Oklahoma City, Mendoza allowed just one run on seven hits in 7 1/3 innings. He walked one and struck out two.

"He threw very well," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He got a lot of ground balls and had no problems with his finger."

Mendoza, who won the fifth starter job in Spring Training, started the season on the disabled list with a blister on his right middle finger, but is expected to be activated on Saturday to pitch against the Toronto Blue Jays.

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