KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 20: Reflief pitcher Neftali Feliz #30 of the Texas Rangers is pulled from the game by Manager Ron Washington #38 after walking in the winning run during the 8th inning of the game at Kauffman Stadium on September 20, 2013 in Kansas City, Missouri. The Royals defeated the Rangers with a final score of 2-1. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Neftali Feliz might not be pitching with the Texas Rangers this season, and if he is, it won't be as one of the two roles he's coveted throughout his career.
The former AL Rookie of the Year and all-star closer is now pitching for a major-league roster spot in the final week of spring training before the games start counting next Monday. Feliz was told over the weekend he won't be the team's closer when the season begins, instead giving the role to another former all-star closer in Joakim Soria. It's hard to imagine Feliz pitching in a setup role, which some say is more high leverage than the closer job.
Feliz said he doesn't regret the 2012 season, when he won a job in the starting rotation, pitched well for a couple of months and then was shut down, eventually requiring Tommy John surgery. Since then, he's never been the same as he's struggling to get out of the lower 90s with his fastball velocity when he averaged 96 mph as the Rangers' closer and often hit 99 and 100 mph.
"Many things happen in life,” Feliz told The Dallas Morning News through an interpreter. “It happened in the past. I’ve got to keep going. I have no regrets.
“My thought is that I have to keep working hard. I don’t focus on [the roster]. I’m not too concerned because it’s not a decision I can make. It’s out of my control.”