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 has some pretty good skins on the wall when it comes to closing out games for the Texas Rangers.
In 2010, he was named the AL Rookie of the Year after piling up 40 saves for the American League champion Rangers, and in 2011, he helped get the Rangers back to the World Series, where he was one strike away from winning it all before David Freese's infamous triple that could have been caught by Nelson Cruz.
Now, Feliz is ready to re-assume the closer job after Joe Nathan's departure and the end of the Feliz-to-the-rotation experiment that came when he was shut down in 2012 and forced to have Tommy John surgery, missing all but the final month of the 2013 season when he worked sparingly.
“I can do it,” Feliz told The Dallas Morning News. “I’ve done it before and I can do it right now. I’m 100 percent physically and mentally.”
Feliz went to the Dominican Republic for winter ball and was able to get in some good, quality innings of work after only appearing in six games with the Rangers in September and giving up no runs in 4 2/3 innings. Over the winter, he was able to get his velocity back up to the high 90s, touching 98 mph on the radar.
That's a good sign for the Rangers, who are counting on Feliz to take ownership of the role again after a few months of experimenting with Feliz as a starter in 2012.
“I felt very comfortable down there,” he said. “The experience down there made me feel more confident. I didn’t have much opportunity last year during the season, so the experience in [the Dominican] helped me improve my confidence.”