The Rangers are going to make a decision on Neftali Feliz’s role before spring training

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Last year there was a lot of hemming and hawing over whether Neftali Feliz — who started all the way through the minor leagues before a year of closing — would return to the rotation.  He started some in the spring, some words were offered to the effect that he’d start, but ultimately Ron Washington wanted him in the pen.

While it was obviously a successful season for the Rangers, they’re still thinking about Feliz in the rotation, and said this afternoon that the decision will be made before spring training begins this time, not after.

Both are good calls. Feliz as a starter makes all kinds of sense given the likely departure of C.J. Wilson and given that, even with Wilson, one or two more solid starts from someone during the postseason could have made the difference between the pen tiring out in the World Series or not.  As for the timing of the decision: yes, let the young man know his role, let the manager use him in that role, and leave all of the uncertainty out of it.

I’m hoping we see Feliz start next year because it’s always better for good pitchers to start as opposed to relieve.  But even if he stays put, not jerking him around like they did last year is a good thing too.

Yasiel Puig was late to a workout on Monday, so Dave Roberts benched him

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Earlier, Craig wrote about how Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig is back in manager Dave Roberts’ doghouse once again. Puig didn’t slide into second base when he was caught stealing to end Saturday’s game, which irked Roberts.

Puig didn’t earn himself any brownie points on Monday as he was late to a team workout and was benched as a result, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports. Roberts said, “That was a decision he made, not me.” Roberts added that he was disappointed in Puig, though he did note that the former All-Star’s behavior has been improved for most of the season.

Puig, 26, has had a solid season, batting .259/.339/.474 with 26 home runs, 70 RBI, 66 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 554 plate appearances. While he hasn’t provided value on the same level as Justin Turner or Corey Seager, he’s been a valuable part of the lineup which makes this drama all the more unfortunate with just a week and a half before the start of the NLDS.

MLB, MLBPA grant Pirates exemption for Jung Ho Kang to participate in Dominican Winter League

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Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Pirates were granted an exemption by Major League Baseball and the players’ union which will allow infielder Jung Ho Kang to participate in the Dominican Winter League without being removed from the restricted list.

Kang, 30, has been denied a visa by the Department of State as a result of his third DUI in South Korea last September. Kang was also under investigation in 2015 for alleged sexual assault.

Kang is under contract through the end of 2018 and the Pirates have a club option for the 2019 season as well, so it makes sense they would try to get him into some type of baseball action ahead of next season. The infielder has hit .273/.355/.483 in 837 plate appearances across two seasons in the majors. As Brink notes, Kang has already arrived to the Dominican Republic and will work out with his team, Aguilas Cibaenas, ahead of the start of the season on October 20.