Neftali Feliz wants to remain a closer even as the Rangers groom him to join the rotation


My assumption has been that Neftali Feliz is on board with the Rangers giving him an opportunity to join the rotation this season, but today the reigning Rookie of the Year told Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News that he’d prefer to remain a reliever:

I’m comfortable there and I’ve done it before at this level and I know what it takes. What I went through last year made me feel more comfortable with the role. I experienced it at a very high level. But if I start, I’ll get myself into a routine and get comfortable with it again. If I start, I’m not going to hold back or not go at it all the way. I’m going to do what I do. If I end up starting, I will get into a routine and I will get more comfortable with it. It’s not that I’m not comfortable. I just haven’t done it in a while.

Feliz is basically saying he’ll do the best job he can in whatever role the Rangers ask him to fill, which is definitely the right approach to take with manager Ron Washington “very committed” to seeing what he can do as a starter. Still, this is a much different situation that career-long reliever C.J. Wilson requesting a chance to be a starter last spring and the Rangers were already facing a tough enough time convincing fans and media members that stretching out Feliz is the right move.

With that said, Grant indicates Feliz’s stated preference for remaining in the bullpen may not be especially strong and he’s obviously open to the switch after spending most of his minor-league career as a starter. If he can be a No. 1 or even No. 2 starter the Rangers are absolutely better off using Feliz in a 200-inning role than in a 70-inning role, but that isn’t something they’ll be able to determine from a handful of spring training starts and in the meantime any struggles could lead to Feliz voicing his preference more strongly.

My guess is he remains a closer.

Dbacks outfielder Steven Souza injured his right shoulder last night

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Arizona Diamondbacks right fielder Steven Souza dove for a ball in a spring training game last night, missed, and ended up injuring his right shoulder.

It looked bad, too. Center fielder Jarrod Dyson stood over him, frantically waving to the dugout for a trainer as Souza kicked his legs in apparent pain. Souza held his arms awkwardly as he walked off the field. At the moment the Dbacks are calling it a right shoulder strain, but he’ll get an MRI on it today after which a more specific diagnosis will come.

If Souza is out for a while it’s a pretty big blow to Arizona’s 2018 plan. Souza was acquired to help cushion the blow of losing J.D. Martinez in free agency. While not the hitter Martinez is, Souza hit 30 homers in Tampa Bay last year, stood likely to at least match that in the more hitter-friendly confines of Chase Field and, of course, plays superior defense.

Potential replacements for Souza include moving David Peralta from left to right and inserting Yasmany Tomas in left or having fourth outfielder Dyson, or perhaps a platoon of Dyson and utilityman Chris Owings, handle right. Socrates Brito is another internal option.

Obviously the Snakes will wait to hear the results of the MRI before going too deeply into replacement plans, all the while hoping that Souza’s injury is far less serious than it appeared to be last night.