Rangers' Feliz comes out of the bullpen blazing

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feliz-neftali-100329.jpgThe 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.

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Clayton Kershaw might return to the Dodgers’ rotation next week

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Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw is nearing his return to the mound, according to club manager Dave Roberts. Both Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) and fellow lefty Rich Hill (left middle finger blister) are scheduled to toss simulated games on Saturday; depending on the outcome, Roberts says Kershaw could forgo a minor league assignment and slot back into the rotation by Thursday.

Kershaw, 30, was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis as the team closed out their Mexico Series at the start of the month. He has not made a start in several weeks, but was finally able to resume throwing on Sunday and managed to get through two successful bullpen sessions. Though Dodgers’ ace hasn’t been completely injury-free over his 11-year career in the majors, this is the first significant issue he’s had with his pitching arm so far. The team is expected to take every precaution with the lefty, and will likely limit him to just four innings during Saturday’s simulated game.

Prior to his injury, Kershaw was working on another dominant run with the club, sporting a 2.86 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 9.8 SO/9 through his first 44 innings of the season. While Kershaw, Hill and left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu served their respective terms on the disabled list this month, the Dodgers utilized a combination of relievers Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, both of whom impressed during their limited time in the rotation.