PADRES UPDATE : NOTEBOOK / BOB NIGHTENGALE : Melendez Probably Will Move into Padres' Starting Rotation

The Padres still are awaiting to make the official announcement, but with the recall Friday of reliever Jeremy Hernandez, it means that Jose Melendez will join the starting rotation Tuesday against the New York Mets.

The Padres had been reluctant to move Melendez into the rotation because he has been invaluable in the bullpen. He has pitched in a team-high 15 games, allowing only four earned runs in 25 2/3 innings for a 1.40 ERA.

With the starting rotation having a 6-11 record and 4.39 ERA, the Padres can not afford to wait any longer. If Melendez performs the way he's capable, the Padres figure they won't need to go to the bullpen as often.

"They haven't told me anything yet," Melendez said, "but I'm ready. I like relieving. But I love starting."

Melendez started nine games for the Padres last season. He was 5-3 with a 3.90 ERA.

"Obviously, he can perform a lot of roles for this team, and he does them all well," Padre Manager Greg Riddoch said. "There's certainly a possibility, maybe a strong possibility, of him starting for us."

While Melendez will be replacing Dave Eiland as the Padres' fifth starter, Frank Seminara could be the way to replace Craig Lefferts as the fourth starter. Lefferts is scheduled to start today against the Phillies, but the Padres do not have him scheduled again the rest of the trip.

If Seminara continues to excel at triple-A Las Vegas, where he is 4-0 with a 1.93 ERA, he would replace Lefferts, probably in the home stand beginning Monday against the New York Mets. Lefferts then would return to the bullpen.

"There's an awful lot of options right now," said Joe McIlvaine, Padre general manager. "We're just going to have to wait and see. We do have a plan in mind, though."

The Padres were offered the services Friday of free-agent catcher Gilberto Reyes, but McIlvaine respectfully declined.

"We'll go with what we got," McIlvaine said.

Although McIlvaine is impressed by Reyes' talent and physical attributes, he and virtually everyone else in baseball are frightened of the others factors in his life.

Reyes failed a drug test during winter ball in the Dominican Republic, which was the second time he had been detected with drug use.

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