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06/02/08 8:23 PM ET

Padilla's absence alters Texas' rotation

Righty has not returned from Nicaragua, may start Friday

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers were forced into major reshuffling mode with their starting rotation Monday after learning Vicente Padilla is still in Nicaragua dealing with a family issue.

Padilla was placed on the bereavement list, retroactive to Sunday. Manager Ron Washington said before Monday's game against Cleveland that Padilla would pitch sometime this weekend. Padilla can remain on the bereavement list for three to seven days.

A.J. Murray will start Tuesday for Padilla. But that's not all.

Because Kevin Millwood also has a personal issue to deal with on Wednesday, Sidney Ponson will pitch on three days' rest in his place and Millwood will start Thursday's series finale against Cleveland. Scott Feldman should take his regular turn in Friday's opener against Minnesota.

The 31-year-old Ponson has never pitched on three days' rest in 267 career starts, but he told Washington he would do it.

"We're not going to stick him out there to hurt himself," Washington said. "We didn't force this on him."

Bumping up Ponson's start put pressure on Monday's starter Doug Mathis to pitch deep into the game and help out a bullpen that could be pushed into extra duty later in the week.

"If Mathis doesn't get it done, we'll have to do something," Washington said.

Padilla would have to return Wednesday to be able to throw a bullpen session and start Friday. Otherwise, it would be a Thursday-Saturday or Friday-Sunday bullpen session and start.

The Rangers miss Padilla for reasons other than disrupting the rotation. Padilla has been the Rangers' best starter. In 12 starts, he leads Texas in wins with seven and he has the lowest ERA among the starters at 3.67.

Washington said he doesn't want any of his starters to push too hard while Padilla is gone.

"All we expect our pitchers to do is keep us in the game," Washington said. "We're not asking them to be superheroes. Just keep it close and give us a chance."

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