In an ongoing series, we'll address offseason questions the Texas Rangers have to answer.
After the Rangers finally went all-in on Neftali Feliz in 2012 and made him a starting pitcher, two years after winning AL Rookie of the Year honors as a closer, the 24-year-old seemed to be finding his way as a guy the front office had confidence in to become a top-of-the-rotation guy in the big leagues.
Then, after seven starts and 42 2/3 innings, he was finished as he went on the disabled list with arm stiffness that later ended up being the dreaded Tommy John surgery. That surgery isn't as dreaded as it used to be, when it was a career-ender for a pitcher. Now, guys come back from it but it can take a couple of years before they're back to full strength.
Feliz was re-instated from the 60-day disabled list on Tuesday, added back to the 40-man roster, which wasn't surprising. He won't be ready for spring training, or for the start of the regular season. But what will the Rangers do with him when he is ready?
That time could come as early as the summer, and it'll be interesting to see what is decided. Conventional thought says Feliz will return to the bullpen when he's ready to go to work back slowly as a 7th-inning guy or possibly a set-up man.
The pitching staff is in full flexibility mode right now with guys like Alexi Ogando being in doubt as to what role he'll fill and with Mike Adams and Koji Uehara both being free agents. That doesn't even mention the fact that the only starting pitchers with rotation spots locked up are Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison and Derek Holland, who could end up being traded if the Rangers go out and sign a big-name pitcher like Zack Greinke.
So where will Feliz be sitting during games when he returns? The bullpen or the dugout? It's still up for discussion, but we'll know here in just about nine months. Sit tight.