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07/20/08 2:25 PM ET

Padilla comes off DL to make start

Duran optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma to get playing time

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Rangers activated starting pitcher Vicente Padilla from the disabled list on Sunday morning in time to start against the Twins. To make room, the club optioned infielder German Duran to Triple-A Oklahoma.

Padilla had been sidelined with neck stiffness since July 5, one day after he gave up eight earned runs in 2 2/3 innings against Baltimore in a 10-4 Texas loss.

The Rangers will be happy to have their right-hander back. Padilla leads the club in wins, innings pitched (107 1/3), and quality starts (9) and is 10-5 with a 4.70 ERA in 2008. Texas is 13-5 in Padilla's 18 starts this year. The 30-year-old right-hander is 8-3 since tossing a shutout on April 27 against Minnesota.

Padilla entered Sunday 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA in two starts against the Twins this year. Manager Ron Washington said Padilla would not be on a pitch count in Sunday's contest against Minnesota, where Texas will attempt to avoid being swept.

Padilla missed only one start while sidelined.

Duran is headed to the Minors after his second stint with the Rangers this season. He was recalled from Oklahoma on June 8. The graduate of Ft. Worth's Paschal High was also with the club from April 17-May 28.

"We sent him out one time, and when he came back he was better. I think when he comes back again, it will be for good, and he will know how to handle being a utility player up here," Washington said. "The guy just needs to play. He only played Double-A last year and he had 18 games in Triple-A. He needs to play, and it's gonna give him an opportunity.

"I'll keep my fingers crossed that no one gets hurt, and when he comes back, he'll be ready. It's just an opportunity for him to get at-bats on a daily basis, give him an opportunity to move around the infield and play everywhere."

Duran will play second base, third base, and shortstop in the Minors.

"I think the more baseball he starts playing, everything that we felt like he needed to improve on up here, he will improve on simply by playing," Washington said.

Duran batted .225 with three home runs and 11 RBIs with the Rangers. He is batting .275 (14-for-51) against left-handed pitching.

Will Duran be Washington's first choice from the Minors if the Rangers sustain an infield injury?

"If there was something that happened on the infield and we didn't need a direct position player," Washington said. "If we needed an extra infielder and the guy wasn't going to be playing, it would be Duran. If we needed a third baseman, somebody to be at third all the time, and [Travis] Metcalf was healthy and ready to go, then we would have to make a decision."

Thor Nystrom is an associate reporter at MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.