The Texas Rangers hope when former closer Neftali Feliz returns from his rehab assignment he looks more like the Feliz from 2010 and not the Feliz who struggled in his past few outings.
Feliz, who has been out with an abscess under his right throwing arm since May 20, is expected to throw an inning for Triple A Round Rock on Saturday. Feliz has thrown three bullpen sessions since being sidelined.
Texas isn’t rushing Feliz back, especially considering how reliable current closer Shawn Tolleson has been since assuming the role three weeks ago.
Feliz has been working with pitching coach Mike Maddux and bullpen coach Andy Hawkins to adjust his delivery back to how it was when he saved 40 games for the Rangers in 2010.
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He used to hold his hands higher before starting his windup. The trio studied video of Feliz this season and noticed that he’s been holding his hands lower, which has slightly altered his delivery, with less bend at the waist that could translate into lower velocity.
“We will take it outing by outing,” manager Jeff Banister said. “He made some adjustments in his delivery, we’ll see what that looks like, how that feels, how he feels with it.”
The Rangers will monitor his pitch count at Round Rock. He’s expected to throw just one inning on Saturday.
The job Tolleson has done has given the Rangers the luxury of not fast-tracking Feliz back to the bulpen.
“We have some guys out of that bullpen who have been throwing the ball very well,” Banister said. “That gives us an opportunity to allow Nefty to do the things he needs to do so that when he does come back he’s closer to being that dominant guy in the bullpen we’ve seen in the past.”
Rangers rookie Joey Gallo took his first major league charter flight to Kansas City late Thursday night/Friday morning.
“We had Chipotle on the plane, I thought that was best thing ever,” he said. “I was texting my friends about it. It’s pretty amazing, you’re not used to that. It was only an hour flight, but it was a lot better than a bus ride.”
A little better than the accommodations of minor league bus rides. “If you didn’t like [what they’re serving], tough luck,” Gallo said.
Gallo has surprised himself how relaxed he’s felt since joining the team.
“I thought I was going to be a lot more nervous but I really haven’t been too bad,” he said. “It’s really the same game just a lot more people watching and more media and TV. Pitcher is still 60 feet away. It’s been fun so far, hopefully I can keep it up.”
First baseman Kyle Blanks is expected to be lifted from the disabled list in the next day or so after missing the past couple of weeks with a cyst near his tailbone.
Banister said Blanks would not be an option at left field in the immediate future. Blanks has been swinging in the cages during his DL stint so a rehab assignment wasn’t necessary, Banister said.
“He’s looked good in batting practice,” he said. “We feel like the outfield portion we can continue to work towards that.”
They’d like to get him back in the swing of things before moving him in that direction to help fill in with left fielder Josh Hamilton out with an injury for the next month.
Stefan Stevenson, 817-390-7760