GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP) — Neftali Feliz is healthy and ready to make his first start for the Texas Rangers.
The former closer pitched five innings and Mitch Moreland hit a two-run homer to help Texas beat the Cleveland Indians 7-4 Saturday night.
Rangers reliever Neal Cotts, in the mix for the final bullpen spot, strained a muscle on the left side of his chest and will be evaluated.
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“There’s never a good time to get an injury,” Texas general manager Jon Daniels said. “It may be a seven-to-10-day thing. Hopefully, that’s all. I think we’ll see him back out there for us.”
Texas was without center fielder Josh Hamilton. He left Friday’s game with a tight left groin and is day-to-day.
Michael Brantley and Jason Kipnis hit solo homers for Cleveland, which has averaged 2.8 runs during a 10-game Cactus League losing streak.
“I guess it is our turn this year to say spring training doesn’t count,” said manager Manny Acta, adding that he remains confident the Indians can score runs.
Feliz, now Texas’ No. 5 starter, allowed three runs and five hits in his first “A” game start since leaving a March 20 outing with right shoulder soreness.
“I’m ready to start,” Feliz said. “If I am healthy, I will be ready. I had no (physical) problems. I am healthy.”
The right-hander struggled to command his overpowering fastball. He walked three, including Lou Marson with the bases loaded.
“I’m learning to follow the rhythm of the game,” said Feliz, a starter in the minors who has pitched 154 times for the Rangers, all in relief. His 72 saves the past two years helped Texas to consecutive World Series appearances.
“I thought he did well,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “He had trouble finding the zone in the second, but minimized the damage and then did well the next three innings. He had a good changeup, breaking ball and let go a few fastballs.”
Cleveland starter Justin Masterson gave up seven hits and six runs over 3 2-3 innings in his final tuneup for his first opening-day start Thursday in Cleveland against Toronto.
“He was a little flat with his pitches,” Acta said. “But he threw 90 pitches, got stretched out and is ready for the season.”
Acta said he will announce his opening-day roster on Sunday. It is expected to include Jose Lopez as a utility infielder and Shelley Duncan as the starter in left field. After hitting five homers early, Duncan has seen his spring average dip to .167.
Either veteran Jeremy Accardo or newcomer Jairo Asencio could get Cleveland’s final bullpen spot. Asencio, acquired from Atlanta, gave up two hits over two scoreless innings in his Indians debut.
Acta has tried numerous players as he seeks some offense, particularly in the outfield where Grady Sizemore is out after back surgery. Acta acknowledged that camp invitees have not done well enough to claim a job.
“They haven’t got it done,” Acta said. “But we have a better offense than last year.”
General manager Chris Antonetti has not commented on reports that Cleveland was close to acquiring veteran outfielder Bobby Abreu from the Los Angeles Angels. Antonetti said Saturday that talks had not slowed down, adding that they “could not intensify.”
NOTES: Texas sent five players to Triple-A Round Rock, including LHP Michael Kirkman. … Cleveland optioned RHP Kevin Slowey to Triple-A Columbus and tabbed RHP Jeanmar Gomez as its fifth starter. Acta said Gomez, who strained his right hip Friday, should be ready for his first start of the season, likely April 11.