FRISCO, Texas — The first outing for Texas right-hander Neftali Feliz in his bid to get back into the rotation for the Rangers went off without any problems Monday.
Feliz, who hasn’t pitched for the Rangers since May 18 because of a sprained right UCL, threw two innings Monday in a rehab start for Double A Frisco.
Feliz threw 40 pitches, allowing one infield hit and one unearned run. After a rocky first that included 29 pitches and two walks, he was much sharper in the second inning. Throwing primarily off-speed pitches, Feliz breezed through three San Antonio batters, needing just 11 pitches and notching a pair of strikeouts in a 1-2-3 inning.
“I was trying to get my pitches low and just throw strikes,” said Feliz, who mixed curveballs, changeups and sliders along with a fastball that reached 96 mph. “I had a long time without pitching on a mound in a live game. I was trying to practice on all my pitches and make the outs as quick as I can.”
Feliz threw 25 of his 40 pitches for strikes and had better command when he didn’t try to overpower San Antonio batters. But that wasn’t his plan anyway, as Feliz struck out the two batters in the second on curveballs and also had a pair of strikeouts in the first inning.
“I want to try and be ready for the team and help as soon as I can,” said Feliz, who was pleased with his velocity.
Feliz, who is eligible to come off the disabled list Wednesday, will make another start Friday for Triple A Round Rock. He’s slated to throw three innings in that start. He’ll likely need at least one more start after that before the Rangers have to find a spot for him on the staff.
Right now there is no room in the starting rotation unless someone gets hurt or struggles. The Rangers’ plan for now is to stretch Feliz out as a starter and then make a decision about where he fits on the staff when he’s healthy.
His role with the club isn’t something Feliz is concerned about right now.
“The first thing is be healthy,” Feliz said. “I started the season as a starter. Right now where we are and where they are, I’m just trying to be ready as soon as I can and help the team any way. I just have to work and do my rehab. All I know is my next outing is Friday in Round Rock.”
In seven starts for the Rangers this year, Feliz is 3-1 with a 3.16 ERA before going on the DL May 21. He was the first player to go on the disabled list for the Rangers since the season started. Since he went on the DL, two other starters (Colby Lewis, Derek Holland) have also spent time on the DL.