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04/25/08 8:03 PM ET

Rangers recall Saltalamacchia

Prized prospect to replace Melhuse, who was released

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers recalled Jarrod Saltalamacchia on Friday, apparently with the intention of seeing whether the centerpiece of last summer's Mark Teixeira trade is ready to become a full-time catcher in the Major Leagues.

"He's not going to come up here and sit like a veteran backup would," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said.

Saltalamacchia, a switch-hitter who turns 23 next Friday, was disappointed late in Spring Training when the Rangers decided to send him to Triple-A Oklahoma so that he could catch every day. He hit .291 with two homers and 13 RBIs in 15 games for the RedHawks. Though it was his first stay ever at the Triple-A level, he refused to concede he got much out of it.

"At the end of Spring Training, I felt I was where I needed to be," he said. "I just went down and kept playing every day. ... No one wants to be in Triple-A, but we had fun down there. I'm happy where I'm at now, though. It's good to be back."

Saltalamacchia replaces Adam Melhuse, whose stint as the Rangers' backup catcher ended Thursday when he broke a bone in his right hand in an 8-2 loss in Detroit.

Melhuse will be sidelined from 2-5 weeks, and Daniels informed him there would be no roster spot waiting for his return. Melhuse had his choice of being shopped in a trade or being set free, and the 36-year-old opted for his unconditional release. Melhuse appeared in eight games and was batting .200 with one RBI and 11 strikeouts in 20 at-bats.

"It's just unfortunate timing," Daniels said. "With our desire to play some of our better young players, there probably won't be a spot for him when his hand heals. This gives him the best chance to catch on elsewhere."

Melhuse's injury triggered a fall of catching dominoes throughout the organization.

Saltalamacchia's promotion prompted the Rangers to move former University of Texas standout Taylor Teagarden from Double-A Frisco to Triple-A Oklahoma, where he will become the RedHawks' new starter. Teagarden, 24, is coming off a hand injury of his own and was batting just .169 with two homers and six RBIs in 16 games for the RoughRiders.

And Saltalamacchia's return to Arlington apparently will cut rather drastically into the playing time of Gerald Laird.

"I don't know anything yet," Laird said. "Nobody's told me a thing."

Laird was in the starting lineup Friday, perhaps only because Daniels and Rangers manager Ron Washington had yet to meet with the two catchers to explain the team's plans. They planned to speak shortly before Friday's series opener with the Twins.

"He's going to play," Washington said of Saltalamacchia, who jumped from Double-A to the Majors last season and hit .266 with 11 homers and 33 RBIs in 93 games for the Braves and Rangers. "We haven't figured out how we're going to work it between him and Gerald, because we haven't discussed that yet."

But Washington made it clear that Saltalamacchia is here as a catcher, and won't be splitting time behind the plate and as a first baseman as he did last season.

"No, we're not going that route," Washington said.

"I just want to come in and help out wherever I can," Saltalamacchia said.

In addition, the Rangers on Friday placed starting pitcher Luis Mendoza (0-2, 9.31 ERA) on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to April 24, because of inflammation in his right shoulder. Left-handed reliever Eddie Guardado, who had been out since April 6 with a sore shoulder, was activated off the disabled list.

Another roster move is forthcoming Saturday. Veteran right-hander Sidney Ponson is expected to be called up from Oklahoma to start Saturday's game against the Twins, with right-handed reliever Josh Rupe likely to be optioned to make room.

Ken Daley is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.