Rangers are playing it safe with Neftali Feliz

Posted Friday, Mar. 23, 2012  comments  Print Reprints

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Neftali Feliz is unlikely to make his next scheduled start Monday for the Texas Rangers, but there is still time for the right-hander to be ready for the regular season.

Feliz played long-toss Friday for a second consecutive day and will throw off flat ground today. Pitching coach Mike Maddux has looked at the remaining spring schedule and says there is still a way for Feliz to get two more starts and build up enough arm strength to make his first regular-season start, likely April 10.

But Feliz isn't likely to appear Monday against Cincinnati. Feliz threw a long-toss session Thursday and said he felt a similar tightness in his shoulder to the one that forced him out of his Tuesday start. He said he felt no tightness after Friday's session.

"We're going to do what's smart," Maddux said. "We're in this thing for the long haul."

Manager Ron Washington said that a likely scenario for Feliz is one more start in Arizona and another in one of the three exhibition games in Texas before the season.

While the rest of the rotation would be scaling back to only a few innings, Feliz would be asked to push his pitch count.

And if Feliz does need to start the season on the disabled list, Scott Feldman and Alexi Ogando will be stretched out and able to fill in.

"It's a muscle. He's getting treatment on it," Washington said. "If for some reason this becomes more than it's been said that it is, we have guys ready just in case."

Kinsler's contract

Club brass met Friday morning with the agent for second baseman Ian Kinsler, who is seeking a contract extension that will allow him to retire with the Rangers.

Jay Franklin, the player-turned-agent, said that the meeting was productive in the sense that the Rangers are showing a genuine effort in locking up their core players. He said it's too early to be overly optimistic, but the dialogue has been positive.

Kinsler wants to stay with the Rangers, who hold a 2013 option on him for $10 million. That extra year is slowing the process some.

"There's no urgency from the club when you've got a guy you know has a full year remaining," Franklin said. "Ian clearly understands how special the things are going on here. If they get these core guys locked up, for the next five years they should be pretty good."

Kinsler signed his current deal -- five years, $22 million -- in 2008 during spring training and surrendered two years of free agency with the option year.

Franklin said that the deal will come down to fair market value for one of the top second basemen in the game.

Philadelphia second baseman Chase Utley, who also surrendered free-agent years by signing a seven-year, $85 million deal in 2007, is making $15 million the next two seasons.

Brandon Phillips is making $12 million this year in the final year of his deal with Cincinnati. Franklin believes that an extension signed by Robinson Cano won't affect negotiations because it has the chance to be in a different stratosphere financially.

The goal is to remain in Arlington.

"That's why it's got to make sense from our perspective," Franklin said. "If it doesn't make sense, that's the unfortunate side where you have to explore other options."

Holland's sinker

All spring training, Derek Holland has been working on what he calls a "ride back," his two-seam sinking fastball he throws to right-handed batters. The pitch is supposed to break inside to the batter, and the left-hander had struggled to locate the pitch. Until Friday.

Holland used the pitch effectively over a five-inning, 67-pitch minor league start. He allowed a run on three hits with two walks and five strikeouts.

"Very happy with how it worked," said Holland, who worked with consultant Greg Maddux on it.

Harrison's start

Matt Harrison will start in a minor league game today instead of the A game vs. the Angels.

Staff writer Drew Davison contributed to this report.

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @JeffWilson_FWST

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