ARLINGTON -- Neftali Feliz believes he belongs in the Texas Rangers' starting rotation when he is ready to return from right elbow inflammation. He made that statement in his first public comments since being placed on the disabled list Monday.
"My mind is coming back to start and being back in the rotation," said Feliz, who was diagnosed with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament.
Feliz, though, could find himself in line for a return to the bullpen. He will not throw for at least a month and then begin a throwing program to rebuild his arm strength. That means Feliz might be sidelined until after the All-Star break.
For now, the Rangers are going with Scott Feldman in Feliz's spot. Feldman started Wednesday and is scheduled for Tuesday's start against the Seattle Mariners.
Texas is also considering free agent right-hander Roy Oswalt. If the team signs Oswalt or makes a similar addition, Feliz would seem destined for the bullpen once he is healthy.
"It's not going to be my decision," Feliz said. "It's going to be up to them. I will not like it, but it's up to them."
General manager Jon Daniels said the Rangers would have to consider what is in Feliz's best interests before making that decision.
Feliz, 24, moved into the rotation this season after spending the previous two years as the closer. He has thrown 42 2/3 innings this season over eight games, including seven starts, compared to throwing 69 1/3 and 62 1/3 innings in the past two seasons.
Feliz doesn't believe the additional workload as a starter caused his elbow problems.
"It was something that was there already," Feliz said. "It was bothering me a little bit and that's what it was."
Feliz initially felt the discomfort May 13 against Los Angeles, but believed he could pitch through it. He lasted only 4 2/3 innings in his last start against Houston on Friday, throwing 51 of his 101 pitches for balls.
Manager Ron Washington has liked what Feliz has done in the rotation, but wasn't ready to weigh in on the starter-reliever debate.
"First, Neffy has to get ready," Washington said. "That's what Neffy needs to focus on, not worrying about what he's going to do or not going to do. That's not even a conversation right now, because he can't even pick up a ball."
Feliz will spend the next month traveling and rehabbing with the big-league team so they can monitor him.
Once he begins his throwing program, the Rangers will send him to the team's facility in Surprise, Ariz., to further build up arm strength and then look into minor-league rehab assignments.
It's the second DL stint for Feliz in his career. He was sidelined April 21-May 5 last season with right shoulder inflammation.
"Everything happens for a reason," Feliz said. "All I can do is keep my head up and keep working."
Drew Davison, 817-390-7760