Neftali Feliz has been optioned to Triple A Round Rock.
The former Rangers closer has had a disappointing spring and has not shown signs of improved velocity. He entered camp as the person the Rangers hoped would seize his old job back, but that never happened.
Feliz, who had Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery in August 2012, had a 4.50 ERA over nine Cactus League appearances. He reached 95 mph a couple times, but mostly sat in the 90-93 mph range. It was a surprise development after he reached 97 mph in winter ball.
“We optioned Neftali with the goal of working with him to get back to where we all know he can be,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “He’s healthy and his work ethic has been solid, but he needs some work and the best place to get him that is in Round Rock right now. I expect he’ll be back as soon as he’s ready to help us.”
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Daniels did not put a timetable on Feliz’s return and said the 2010 rookie of the year and All-Star was disappointed when confronted with the news.
“It was respectful, but he was disappointed,” Daniels said. “He was upset. He worked his butt off just to come back from the surgery and he’s not having the results he wants. He got with our guys and is committed himself to get after it and get back.”
Feliz, 25, was told a few days ago that he was no longer in the mix to be the team’s closer, a job that went to Joakim Soria. However, he still had a chance to make the team as a bullpen piece but the Rangers decided the best option was to have him start the season in the minor leagues.
“From a performance standpoint and even from a mechanical standpoint, he’s still searching for some consistency,” Daniels said.
Feliz saved 72 games in 2010-11 and then converted into a starter before the 2012 season, making the Opening Day rotation. But he made only eight appearances (seven starts) that season before undergoing Tommy John surgery.
In other bullpen moves, the Rangers re-assigned relievers Rafael Perez and Aaron Poreda to minor league camp, eliminating two more pitchers from the bullpen mix.
The Rangers have four set relievers with Soria at closer, Alexi Ogando and Neal Cotts as setup relievers and Jason Frasor as a middle reliever. Ogando, though, could find himself back in the rotation if Yu Darvish lands on the disabled list. That could leave four spots with six candidates left in big-league camp.
From the left side, they have Michael Kirkman and Pedro Figueroa, who are both out of minor-league options, and Ryan Feierabend. From the right side, Tommy Hanson, Shawn Tolleson and Daniel McCutchen are options. The Rangers also had prospect Nick Martinez throw two innings of relief Tuesday and could view him as a possibility.