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Neftali Feliz happy to be moving into the Rangers’ rotation

Nov 22, 2011, 11:51 AM EDT

New York Yankees v Texas Rangers, Game 2 Getty Images

By signing Joe Nathan to a two-year, $14.5 million contract the Rangers showed that they’re committed to moving Neftali Feliz into the rotation and the 23-year-old closer issued a statement saying he’s on board with the switch:

Jon Daniels and Ron Washington called me a couple of days ago and told me about the team’s decision for me to be a starting pitcher next season. I was a starter for my whole career before I came to the major leagues. I am happy to know the team’s decision this early, and I have plenty of time to get ready. I have already started running. I have time to work on my changeup and all my pitches. I know I have to work hard to be ready to help my team as a starter so we can get back to the playoffs.

Communicating their intentions ahead of time seems like an important thing after the Rangers waffled on their preference for his role last spring training and Feliz in turn was also unsure. He worked as a starter early in camp and then shifted back to the bullpen, with Alexi Ogando instead emerging as the bullpen-to-rotation success story of 2011.

Feliz has had more success at a younger age than just about any closer in baseball history, but as he said in the statement he came up through the minor leagues as a top-rated starter prospect and it always makes sense to find out if a young pitcher can thrive in a 200-inning role before putting him in a 70-inning role for life.

If he establishes himself as a No. 1 or No. 2 starter and Nathan stays healthy at closer the Rangers will have essentially replaced C.J. Wilson for $7 million per season. And after moving Wilson and Ogando into the rotation during the past two seasons Texas deserves a lot of credit for thinking outside the box with starting pitching.

  1. bigxrob - Nov 22, 2011 at 11:56 AM

    Michael Young take note: This is how a Pro handles himself.

    • Mike Luna - Nov 22, 2011 at 12:08 PM

      To be fair, Feliz didn’t handle his possible move to the rotation very well a year ago.

      • antlerclaws - Nov 22, 2011 at 7:29 PM

        I think with Feliz it was more that he was unsure of himself, so he waffled a bit here and there, and I think that’s why he made those comments saying he’d rather be a closer when they were trying to make him an SP. He didn’t exactly throw a fit about it.

  2. bshook87 - Nov 22, 2011 at 12:04 PM

    The real concern will be if Feliz can develop a good third and fourth pitch. Any big league hitter can catch up to a 100 mph fastball if that’s all they see! His change and slider need serious work too…

    • Detroit Michael - Nov 22, 2011 at 12:49 PM

      Plus Feliz wasn’t really all that effective in 2011 as a reliever. That’s a concern too.

    • cintiphil - Nov 23, 2011 at 10:05 AM

      Not anyone. Some guys just don’t have that fast of a bat. However, Feliz needs to learn control. With the aspirin tabs he throws, he can be very effective.

  3. Graves - Nov 22, 2011 at 12:08 PM

    He probably also realizes he’s going to make drastically more money over the next 15 years as a starter than he would as a closer.

    I realize that’s not the only incentive, but it can’t hurt.

  4. cowhawkfan - Nov 22, 2011 at 5:11 PM

    @bigxrob…not even a fair comparison as noted by other posters above.

    I like Feliz as a starter, this move should have been made this past year. Not too sure about Nathan as he did not perform well in 2011 after his surgery. Perhaps he’ll be the set-up to Adams if he does’t get better. I also hope this does not preclude Texas from resigning Wilson. Texas cannot go into 2012 without a real #1. Right now all they have is a bunch of 2,3, and 4’s. Also, Fielder would sure look good on 1st!!

  5. cintiphil - Nov 23, 2011 at 10:03 AM

    I never saw this guy until the ALCS and W-S. he didn’t impress me with his performance. He seems he needs to learn how to get the ball over the plate with something on it. He is young and perhaps will improve as he develops. I like guys who can throw around 95-100.

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