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

Mar 7, 2011, 4:47 PM EDT

World Series Giants Rangers Baseball

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.

  1. trevorb06 - Mar 7, 2011 at 5:11 PM

    You know… If I only had to work from 4pm to 5pm and could watch everybody else work from 8am to 4pm I guess I would want to keep that gig too. Especially if I still got paid the same.

    • Alex K - Mar 7, 2011 at 5:16 PM

      Yeah, but you could make a lot more money in the future working from 8-4. And if those hours didn’t work out, you could always go back to thr 4-5 time.

      • trevorb06 - Mar 7, 2011 at 5:27 PM

        Alright there Alex ‘Buzz’ Killian. Hate to see what you’d say to a ‘knock-knock’ joke or a
        ‘chicken crosses the road’ joke.

  2. Ari Collins - Mar 7, 2011 at 5:26 PM

    Saying “he prefers to close!” seems like at least a little bit of a loose reading of what he said, which, to me, boils down more to: “I’m used to closing now, but I’m sure I’d get used to starting too.” Any statement of preference is inferred, and it’s hard to infer a strong preference.

  3. pastyrasta - Mar 7, 2011 at 6:03 PM

    I may be missing something here but has anyone bothered to inform Ron Washington of who his closer will be if Feliz is turned into a starter? Your talking about Arthur Rhodes, Alexi Ogando, Darren Oliver, or Darren O’Day. That’s not really a murders row of closers in waiting. Why mess with a good thing? It’s great if Feliz can pitch 6 solid innings every 5th day but what good does it do if you don’t have someone coming out in the 9th to finish the job. I haven’t found an article anywhere that indicates who would be the Rangers closer, my guess would be Ogando since he has the best stuff but that’s asking a lot out of a kid who just showed up last year.

    • gt929 - Mar 7, 2011 at 8:20 PM

      Most local media say it will be Mark Lowe or Ogando. I think I prefer Ogando, though Lowe has experience. Feliz had no experience going into last season, and he worked out well.

    • Detroit Michael - Mar 8, 2011 at 8:17 AM

      I’m more concerned about whether Ogando can retire left-handed batters than his inexperience.

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