Feliz focusing on starting role for Rangers

ARLINGTON, Texas – Texas right-hander Neftali Feliz hasn’t forgotten about his struggles in Game 6 of the World Series.

But Feliz, who gave up the game-tying hit against St. Louis in the ninth inning, has moved on in his preparations for becoming a starter this season.

He can do that taking comfort in knowing that the game-tying hit by David Freese came on the fastball he wanted to throw.

“I’m not mad at myself,” said Feliz, who was in Arlington as part of the club’s FanFest. “It just got hit. I was upset. But after we hit the home run (in the 10th inning) I thought I was ready, but no one told me to pitch.”

Feliz said he was ready to go back in the game following the ninth inning, but Rangers manager Ron Washington went a different direction and instead went with Darren Oliver as the Rangers couldn’t hang on.

The memories from the series still linger for Feliz, but he said he tries not to think about it too much. He’s got more pressing concerns.

He’ll open this season as a starter for the club, which made the decision last November. He’s already taken steps toward that transition by doing more conditioning work, dropping five pounds and throwing his first bullpen session.

He’ll participate in a pitching camp for the Rangers Tuesday with another key benefit – having been able to gather advice from pitching great Pedro Martinez after a December meeting in the Dominican Republic set up by the Rangers.

“We talked for a long time with Pedro and the main thing he told me is to not think I’m going to replace anyone in the rotation like C.J. (Wilson) or anybody,” Feliz said. “I’m just going to be a starter and I have to work hard. I’m not going to do a perfect job from the beginning. It’s something I have to work hard and make adjustments with my body and myself and the routines. That’s what I have to focus on. It’s going to take me a little time.”

After throwing for the Rangers Tuesday, he’ll return to the Dominican where he’ll throw for Martinez. Like Feliz, Martinez started his big-league career as a reliever with the Los Angeles Dodgers. But after he was traded to Montreal, Martinez became a starter and went on to win three Cy Young Awards.

Feliz is learning more than pitching from Martinez, who Feliz idolized as a youngster.

“He gave me a lot of advice, not just about preparation but about things like toughness and stuff like that,” said Feliz. “I take it very deeply with hm. It’s a lot of help. He was sincere with me. He told me to be patient. Don’t get anxious. It was a great meeting with him and I got a lot of good advice from him.”