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Mendez shows maturity after return from Minors

MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

OAKLAND -- Yohander Mendez said he is a better pitcher now than when he was up with the Rangers in June.

"I have been working on my fastball command," Mendez said. "I had a lot of problems before, but now it's better. I'm working on throwing my curveball for strikes."

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OAKLAND -- Yohander Mendez said he is a better pitcher now than when he was up with the Rangers in June.

"I have been working on my fastball command," Mendez said. "I had a lot of problems before, but now it's better. I'm working on throwing my curveball for strikes."

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More important, Mendez said he is a better person now than when he was sent back to the Minor Leagues in June. The demotion all the way to Class A Advanced Down East was not because of performance, but because of a violation of team rules while the Rangers were in Kansas City.

"You know, now I understand the process, and I'm more mature," Mendez said. "For me … it happened, it's in the past. I learned about the process from that situation. I have never been that way before. That's not me. I'm a different person."

The process is what Mendez was missing. The Rangers wanted him to embrace the correct process of how to conduct yourself as a Major League pitcher and prepare yourself for pitching in a Major League game. The absence of that was more disconcerting for the Rangers than the actual incident in Kansas City.

They wanted Mendez to refocus and rededicate himself to the craft of being a Major League pitcher. They also made him earn his way back to the big leagues step by step, beginning at Down East, followed by Double-A Frisco and Triple-A Round Rock.

"It was hard, but it was a good experience," Mendez said. "I got back to my preparation, back to work, back to where I need to go."

Mendez did everything the Rangers asked and was brought back to the big leagues when the rosters expanded this month. He responded with six scoreless innings in an 18-4 victory over the Twins on Sunday and will pitch again Saturday against the Athletics.

He has remade himself into a serious candidate for the Rangers in 2019.

"You've got a young guy who seems to be focused and has some determination," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "There is some confidence in what he has been able to do. Out on the field the other day I was impressed by how he continued to stay focused; the tempo by which he pitched. In the dugout in between innings, he seemed to be locked in and having conversations on what he wanted to do with the next hitters. The young man has done a fine job since he has come back."

Gonzalez leads Spokane

Class A Short-Season Spokane defeated Everett, 5-4, on Friday afternoon to win its best-of-three Northwest League semifinal series. The Indians advance to the Northwest Championship Series and face Eugene in a best-of-five.

All games will be played in Eugene as the Indians' home field is being used for the Spokane County Fair.

Chi Chi Gonzalez, who is coming back from Tommy John surgery, pitched five scoreless innings to get the victory. Gonzalez, the Rangers' No. 1 Draft pick in 2013, has pitched 19 scoreless innings over five games with Spokane and the Arizona Rookie League Rangers.

Rangers beat

Ryan Rua, on the disabled list with tightness in his back, is with the Rangers in Oakland and taking batting practice. Banister said the Rangers will have a better idea at the end of the weekend when Rua might be ready to contribute again.

• Rookie right-hander Ariel Jurado is scheduled to pitch Sunday, but Banister said the Rangers will likely use one of their relievers in the first one to two innings. The Rangers did that Monday with Jeffrey Springs, who pitched two innings, and Jurado combining for six scoreless against the Angels.

• Pitcher Adrian Sampson has yet to appear in a game for the Rangers, but Banister said he is under consideration to start Tuesday against the Angels.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

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