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08/12/08 7:56 PM ET

Young pitchers to face Wild Card foe

Mendoza and Hunter may follow Feldman to Fenway mound

BOSTON -- The Rangers may play their three-game Wild Card showdown against the Red Sox with a pitching rotation of Scott Feldman, Luis Mendoza and Tommy Hunter.

Vicente Padilla is supposed to pitch on Thursday, but he may be pushed back to next Sunday because of inflammation in a joint on the right side of his neck. Padilla returned to Texas on Sunday night and had an MRI on Monday in Dallas.

The results showed inflammation and Padilla was given a cortisone shot to help it calm down. The Rangers, who are already without Kevin Millwood, do not expect at this point to put Padilla on the disabled list. Hunter, who has made two Major League starts, will pitch on Thursday if Padilla isn't ready.

"I was really hoping to get my veterans going," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "But this is what we have to go up there with. You just hope these kids can do the best job they can and we'll know how good it is after the game is over. I'd certainly like to have Padilla up there."

The Rangers were interested in pitcher Paul Byrd before the July 31 Trade Deadline. But they were one of six teams on his no-trade list. Bryd was traded to the Red Sox on Tuesday.

Millwood, on the disabled list with a strained right groin muscle, started for Double-A Frisco on medical rehab assignment and allowed two runs -- one earned -- on five hits, two walks and six strikeouts. He said he had no trouble with the injury and confirmed that again after throwing on the side before Tuesday's game.

"It was fine," Millwood said. "All I cared about was working on my pitches and making sure my groin was fine. I did all that. I was able to throw [74] pitches with no discomfort. It didn't hurt today and it didn't hurt yesterday. I don't know what else I can do."

Millwood said he's ready to come off the disabled list. The Rangers would probably prefer that he make one more start in the Minors, but Padilla's problem may increase the urgency of getting Millwood back into the rotation. He would likely pitch on Friday against the Rays at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Matt Harrison would follow Millwood on Saturday and that would complete a stretch where the Rangers had a rookie starter on the mound in eight of 13 games.

"I'd like the guys that we were depending on to be dependable," Washington said. "But it's not that way so we have to deal with the growth of our young pitchers. We've got to send them positive vibes just like we do with the veterans. Each one of them has shown they can do it, why can't they do it here?"

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