Neftali Feliz Is Now The Rangers' Closer





DALLAS — The Rangers' top prospect is now the Rangers' top reliever.

Righthander Neftali Feliz, who has spent the last two seasons as the club's top-ranked prospect, according to Baseball America, was moved into the closer's role before the first week of the season. Feliz, who turns 22 on May 4, was moved into the role after right-hander Frank Francisco suffered blown saves in consecutive outings.

Rangers manager Ron Washington said the move is "temporary," but, in practicality, the job likely belongs to Feliz until he suffers a meltdown. And it also lends more credibility to the argument that Feliz's long-term future may be as a closer because of his rather limited repertoire.

He did nothing to change that thinking during his first save chance in the new role. In an 18-pitch perfect inning against Cleveland on April 12, Feliz hit 102 mph with the fastball, averaged 99.4 mph and very possibly shorted out the radar gun. It went blank for five pitches after the 102 mph pitch.

As a late-inning reliever, Feliz can rely more heavily on the fastball. It also appears that his secondary stuff is better in that role partly because he doesn't have to throw it as often and partly because his fastball has so much life, it enhances the effect of secondary stuff when thrown.

"Maybe there is a little bit of pressure in this role," Feliz said through an interpreter, "but I know I can take care of what I need to. I trust myself. I just have to keep doing the same thing I was doing [as an eighth-inning reliever]. I can't change anything because I come in in a different inning."

RANGER ROUNDUP

• Outfielder Brandon Boggs is once again having shoulder issues. His progress was stunted due to a dislocated left shoulder last year that limited him to 102 games split between Triple-A Oklahoma City and the majors. This year, the problem is in his right shoulder. He was placed on the disabled list at Oklahoma City just three days into the minor league season with tendinitis.

• Lefthander Martin Perez, the top pitching prospect still in the minors, began his 2010 season with four innings of no-hit ball for Double-A Frisco just nine days after he turned 19. Perez did allow a pair of hits in the fifth inning and was removed with two outs and the bases loaded of a scoreless game. In his first 26 innings of work since moving to Frisco late last year, he has allowed just six walks.