Texas Rangers

March 21, 2014

Neftali Feliz unconcerned about velocity, closer competition at this point

The closer race remains open as Feliz has yet to win back his old job.

Neftali Feliz entered spring training as the favorite to win the closer’s job, but he has yet to win it nine days before Opening Day.

Instead, the closer competition remains open between Feliz and Joakim Soria, who hasn’t allowed a run over seven outings this spring. Tanner Scheppers could also join the mix if he’s taken out of the rotation competition.

But there is still some belief within the organization that Feliz could finish strong his final few outings and reclaim his old job. Feliz would like that to happen, too, but isn’t overly concerned about it.

“I’m not nervous, it’s not my decision,” Feliz said. “I try to do my job, show that I can close a game, but that decision is up to the manager.”

Manager Ron Washington hasn’t anointed a closer yet and seems lukewarm on Feliz at this point. Feliz allowed one run in the seventh inning Friday and has a 4.50 ERA over eight outings this spring.

His fastball topped out at 92 mph Friday and hasn’t reached the 97 mph mark he touched during winter ball. But Feliz remains confident that the velocity is coming.

“Some days I throw hard, some days I don’t, so I try to keep the ball down,” said Feliz, who saved 72 games during the 2010-11 seasons.

“I know my velocity isn’t there, but it’s coming soon so I try to be healthy and ready for the season.”

Feliz will have Saturday off, but could throw again on Sunday or Monday. Soria is scheduled to pitch Saturday.

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