The 2014 season didn't begin as Rangers starter Nick Tepesch had hoped it might, but it acted as motivation to improve off his rookie season.
A year after making the Rangers' Opening Day roster, Tepesch was sent to Triple-A during Spring Training this season. After going 6-1 with a 1.58 ERA in seven starts at Triple-A Round Rock, he's back where he wants to be.
The second-year starter will make his third start of the season in Minnesota on Monday.
"I don't know if there is a big difference between this year and last year," Tepesch said. "I didn't want to get sent down in Spring Training but it put things in perspective. There were things that I didn't do well that had to get better. It gave me a chance to get back to where I was early last year."
In his first month last season, which included four starts, Tepesch tossed 21 1/3 innings allowing only six runs (2.53 ERA). One of those starts came against Minnesota, when he allowed one run in 6 2/3 innings at Target Field for his second win in the Majors.
Through two starts this season, Tepesch has a 3.09 ERA.
"He looks like the Nick Tepesch of the beginning of last year," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "I just want him to keep building on it."
Tepesch will face the Twins for the second time in his career as the two teams open a four-game series at Target Field. Minnesota will counter with veteran right-hander Kevin Correia, whose season has been marked by inconsistency.
Correia has four quality starts this season, but mixed with his strong starts have come five outings where he's allowed at least four runs, including three starts where he's allowed five or more earned runs. That has led to a 2-5 record and a 6.52 ERA.
The 33-year-old will make his 10th start, coming off a quality start against San Diego last Tuesday in which he surrendered three runs in six innings.
"My delivery felt the best it's been," Correia said after the win. "I had better movement. I was able to get a lot of ground balls. I was doing a pretty good job of getting ahead of guys and when I didn't, I still was able to keep the ball down and not give them a good pitch to hit."
The Rangers have won 11 of their last 17 games against the Twins since 2012, including five of the last seven at Target Field, but are 28-36 against them since Washington took over as manager in 2007.
"Ron Gardenhire teams, whether they are playing good or not, whether they are young or not, play the game right," Washington said. "It will be a tough four days, no doubt about it. Last year they were building a young team. This year they've got a year under their belts and are playing good baseball. That's expected in Minnesota."
Rangers: Moreland takes over in the third spot
Manager Ron Washington has been experimenting with his lineup with Prince Fielder out for the rest of the season. He has used Mitch Moreland in the No. 3 spot for the first time in his career in the Rangers' last two games, and Washington likes that look for now.
The change allows Washington to use Shin-Soo Choo in the leadoff spot. Choo can hit almost anywhere, but the Rangers like him at the top. Much will depend on Moreland taking to the No. 3 spot. He has gone 4-for-11 there in the last two games.
"I want Mitch to be Mitch," Washington said. "If he'll be Mitch, he'll be good enough. If the ball is in the zone, take a hack at it. Don't try to do anything special. I'll take what Mitch gives us."
Twins: Willingham, Arcia set to return to Minnesota
Minnesota added outfielders Josh Willingham and Oswaldo Arcia to the active roster following Sunday's 8-1 loss in San Francisco ahead of Monday's series opener against the Rangers.
Willingham hasn't played since April 6 when he was hit by a pitch and suffered a wrist injury. Arcia has been with Triple-A Rochester since returning from his right wrist injury May 14.
Willingham will reclaim his everyday role in left field while Arcia will join the mix in the outfield. To make room on the roster, the Twins optioned Chris Colabello and Chris Herrmann to Triple-A.
"We're excited to have them healthy now and they're both swinging very well," Gardenhire said. "Willingham is seeing the ball and his timing is looking really good. It's nice to have those two. We'd like to see what it's like having some more pop back in the lineup. These two guys can both hit the ball a long ways."
• Choo is 26-for-65 (.400) on the road this season. With a single in Sunday's series finale against Detroit, he now has hits in 17 of 19 road games.
• With their 12-4 win against Detroit on Sunday, the Rangers moved back to .500 (25-25) for the first time since May 13. It was Texas' first series win since May 2-4 against the Angels.
• With just 21 appearances under his belt (19 starts), Twins hitters have little experience against Tepesch. They are a combined 4-for-15 against the right-hander.
Alex Halsted is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.