Neftali Feliz pitched for the first time in almost four weeks Tuesday, tossing a scoreless inning for Triple A Round Rock.
Express pitching coach Brad Holman called it a positive step for Feliz, who sat in the 94-96 mph range with his fastball and mixed in his slider and changeup.
The 26-year-old Feliz allowed one hit with one strikeout over his 14-pitch appearance against Memphis.
“Today was good,” Holman said. “Hitters still respect his fastball. They had to cheat on it a little bit to catch up to it. It had some good late movement and he threw a couple sliders and changeups. He looked good, he knows what he’s doing out there.”
The goal going forward, Holman said, is to make sure Feliz maintains his velocity from outing to outing. That’s been the issue for him since spring training when most believed he would seize his old job back as this year’s closer.
But Feliz never showed signs of having it together, started the season at Round Rock and was then placed on the minor-league disabled list in mid-April with general soreness. Feliz had Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery in August 2012 and the organization felt part of his issues might have been related to him not having a full off-season.
Feliz made eight minor-league appearances last season and pitched six more times for the Rangers in September. He then pitched in winter ball, compiling a 2.79 ERA over 10 appearances with Toros del Este in the Dominican Winter League.