The Texas Rangers have decided to keep Neftali Feliz in their bullpen for now instead of putting him in the rotation or priming him in the minors for such a starting role.
It seems Feliz is taking to his relief role just fine, as he hit 100 mph on the radar gun three times and 101 on three other occasions while striking out the side against the Colorado Rockies on Monday.
As Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports, Feliz seems pretty darned motivated by a fear of being sent to the minors. Anything to avoid those bus trips!
After a ragged first relief outing of the spring, Neftali Feliz was summoned to manager Ron Washington’s office for a little get together. Feliz’s reaction: He thought he was about to be shipped out to Oklahoma City.
“I saw a couple of guys go in and when they came out, they were packing stuff for the minors,” Feliz said through translator Julio Borbon after blowing away Colorado in the ninth inning Monday. “I wasn’t upset, but I was already thinking about what I needed to do to get back here.”
Turns out that since the Rangers were moving him back to the bullpen, they simply wanted him to start pitching like a reliever, too. In other words, go after people with the fastball until they make him do something else.
The Rangers are planning to use Feliz as their primary setup man from the right side this season, so they’re going to test Feliz and see if he can pitch on back-to-back days, something they didn’t ask of him in his 20-game major league debut last season.
Feliz says he isn’t worried about that, and I suspect he’ll be fine. But you have to wonder if the 21-year-old (22 on May 2) would be better served honing his secondary pitches in Oklahoma City with an eye toward the future. After all, in the show, everyone can hit heat.