Neftali Feliz isn’t lacking for confidence, which is a significant turnaround from where he was this time a year ago.
The right-hander said Friday, as Texas Rangers pitchers and catchers reported for spring training, that he is the undisputed closer, that he will have that job at the end of camp, and the he will save 40 to 50 games in 2015.
If so, the Rangers will have one less worry about their bullpen. If so, the Rangers could very well be a contender. But as is always the case with Feliz, he will have to prove it.
At least he looked the part of the closer last season as he saved 13 games down the stretch and flashed his trademark upper-90s velocity. It wasn’t that way last spring, when his velocity was down, his arm was tired and he was optioned to Triple A Round Rock.
“I’m more confident and my arm feels much better,” said Feliz, whose recovery from Tommy John surgery in 2012 lingered into last season. “I’m 100 percent ready to go, and I’m going to keep working hard and get ready to go for the season.”
The Rangers believe they have a fall-back option if Feliz falters, though fellow righty Tanner Scheppers is coming off an elbow injury after a failed experience as a starter last year.
But Feliz, who was pushed by a personal trainer in the off-season, said there will be no need for Plan B. He is the Rangers’ closer.
“One hundred percent,” he said.
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760