(Reuters) - The Texas Rangers suffered another hit to their starting rotation when Colby Lewis was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday because of tendinitis in his right forearm.
With Lewis, who is 6-6 with a 3.51 earned run average, headed to the bench, the Rangers have only two of their season-starting five-man rotation still taking the mound.
Despite the pitching problems, the hard-hitting, two-time defending American League champions (45-29) have carried on to lead the AL West by 4.5 games over the Los Angeles Angels.
Lewis experienced soreness in his arm in his last start against Colorado on Saturday when he gave up eight runs in four innings.
"Since he only has two starts remaining until the All-Star break, we decided to play it safe," general manager Jon Daniels told reporters. "Our expectation is he'll bounce back right after the break."
Lewis joined fellow starters Derek Holland and Neftali Feliz on the injury list.
Holland has been sidelined since June 6 because of a stomach virus, but has begun a rehabilitation assignment and could be close to re-joining the club.
Neftali Feliz went on the disabled list on May 19 with a sprained right elbow and is not expected back for another month.
In the meantime, Scott Feldman has moved from the bullpen to the rotation and rookie left-hander Martin Perez could soon join him.
Perez was called up on Tuesday to replace Lewis on the roster.
For now, both Perez and Justin Grimm will be in the Rangers' bullpen for the next few days, and how they are used will impact the decision on who will start Saturday's game for Texas.
Perez was 5-5 with a 4.59 ERA in 15 starts at Triple-A Round Rock, but in his last two starts allowed two runs over 16 innings, while Grimm has had mixed results in his first two starts for Texas.
Daniels said the Rangers were not yet looking outside the organization for pitching help. The club signed veteran right-hander Roy Oswalt in May, and he made a successful Rangers debut on Friday.
(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Ian Ransom)