Choice sent down as Rangers juggle roster

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Coming off a 1-6 road trip, the Rangers shook up their 25-man roster prior to Monday’s game against the Astros at Globe Life Park.

In the most notable move, outfielder Michael Choice, struggling with a .177 batting average, was optioned to Triple-A Round Rock.

“We still have a lot of faith in him," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “It’s tough to do something that you’ve always done at the major league level. The grind of the season can get to you. We don’t need his struggle to become mental.

“It’s always hard to tell a player, but it is best for him and best for us."

Choice, who played college baseball at UT-Arlington, was fourth on the Rangers in home runs with eight.

In other moves:

• Veteran infielder Donnie Murphy, hitting .196, was designated for assignment. Murphy had only one plate appearance on the recent road trip. The Rangers have 10 days to trade, release or outright Murphy to the minors.

• Right-handed reliever Roman Mendez was recalled from Round Rock. In 25 appearances, the 23-year-old has three saves and a 4.02 ERA.

“We need to make sure we have enough pitching," Washington explained. “We used those guys pretty hard in Baltimore and New York."

Mendez came to the Rangers organization from Boston in a 2010 deal for Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

• Texas purchased the contract of right-handed hitting outfielder Jake Smolinski. In 72 games with Double-A Frisco and eight games with Round Rock this season, Smolinski posted a .267 batting average. All of his 10 home runs came at Frisco, where he was named to the Texas League All-Star Game roster.

Smolinski, 25, was signed as a minor league free agent in the offseason. The one-time second-round choice of the Nationals also spent time in the Marlins organization.

Washington said he would use Smolinski in a similar role as Choice with some starts in left field and some as designated hitter.

• The Rangers also announced that Nick Martinez will be scratched from his scheduled start Tuesday. Martinez (1-6) experienced discomfort in his left side last week while pitching batting practice.

With Martinez down, the Rangers plan to recall right-handed starter Phil Irwin from Round Rock. Irwin was 4-1 with a 2.47 ERA in six starts.

Irwin was in the Rangers clubhouse Monday and said he had an inkling that a promotion might be in the works when he was scratched from his start Sunday. He made one major league start for Pittsburgh near the end of the 2013 season, allowing four runs in 4.2 innings.

One pitch that has made a difference this year, Irwin said, is his change-up.

“The change has come a long way. I have a better feel for it and it has helped make my other pitches better."