Texas Rangers closer Neftali Feliz has been put on the 15-day disabled list because of right shoulder inflammation, leaving the defending American League champions unsettled at the back end of their bullpen.
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The Rangers made the move before playing Kansas City on Saturday night. It was retroactive to Thursday, the day after the hard-throwing right-hander last pitched.
”We’ve got no bona fide closer right now,” manager Ron Washington said. ”It’s that simple.”
General manager Jon Daniels said Feliz felt what he thought was normal soreness in spring training, then kept pushing through it. Feliz didn’t say anything to team officials until being affected by cold weather in New York last weekend.
”Of course, I don’t feel good about it, but I know what it is good for me,” Feliz said about his first time on the disabled list. ”It is the best way for me to take a couple of weeks because it’s a long season.”
Feliz has five saves in five chances this season and an 1.08 ERA in eight appearances when opponents hit only .138 against him. Last season, Feliz set a major league rookie record with 40 saves.
After getting a couple of days off, Feliz pitched in a non-save situation Wednesday against the Los Angeles Angels. He walked three consecutive batters, but got out of the inning without giving up a run. He still felt tight the following day.
”If he was 33 instead of 23 we may treat it a little differently, but given his age and what he means to the club, we’re going to play this one on the safe side, relatively conservatively,” Daniels said. ”We’re doing this to be cautious. We’re trying to be proactive and get all of the soreness out of there. Obviously you never know until he’s back, but we don’t expect it to be an issue.”
Texas purchased the contract of right-hander Cody Eppley from Triple-A Round Rock.
When asked who the closer would be in Feliz’s absence, Washington responded, ”whoever gets the ball in the ninth inning.”
The options include Darren Oliver and Arthur Rhodes, the Rangers’ 40-something left-handers who have only 35 combined saves in 1,456 major league appearances. Submarine-throwing right-hander Darren O’Day has only two saves in 177 games while right-hander Dave Bush was a starter his first seven major league seasons before joining the Rangers bullpen this year.
”I guess it will be closer by committee,” Oliver said.
Oliver has three saves in 601 career games, including one last year that was his first since 1994. He went into Saturday night’s game 1-1 with a 2.16 ERA in eight appearances this season.
”It’s not going to change our role, because eighth inning and the ninth inning are about the same,” said Rhodes, who has 32 saves in 855 appearances but none since 2008. ”We’ve just got to go out there and do what we’ve been doing, get guys out. … No mentality is going to change. I’m going to go our there and be Arthur, just do what I do.”
Rhodes has a 3.00 ERA in six appearances this season.
Eppley threw 8 1-3 scoreless innings in six appearances for Round Rock. He converted all three save chances, including his last appearance Wednesday.
To make room on the 25-man roster for Eppley, the Rangers recalled right-hander Eric Hurley from Round Rock and put him on the 60-day disabled list.
Hurley has a mild concussion and a small fracture after being struck on the right side of a head by a one-hop comebacker Monday. He was on Round Rock’s DL, and the Rangers still don’t know when the former first-round pick will be able to resume baseball activities.