The long-awaited return of Neftali Feliz to the Texas Rangers happened over the weekend when he was called up from Triple-A Round Rock on Friday afternoon, and so far, so good for the former AL Rookie of the Year and all-star closer.
After being converted to the starting rotation after an all-star appearance as the Rangers' closer, Feliz made just seven starts in 2012 and was pretty effective, but his elbow couldn't handle it and he was a victim of Tommy John surgery. He didn't return to the big-league mound until last September and did it in the bullpen.
Feliz worked 4 2/3 scoreless innings over six September appearances and looked like a lock to be the Rangers' closer once again in 2014 after the departure of Joe Nathan. But Feliz couldn't win the job in the spring, as Joakim Soria pitched well and Feliz looked awful with a dip in his velocity and an ability to throw strikes that weren't upper 80s and low 90s and belt-high.
After working to regain his old form in Round Rock, Feliz was called back up on Friday and made two appearances over the weekend in New York with good results.
In his debut on Friday, Feliz worked two scoreless innings with two strikeouts and two walks. On Sunday, he worked another scoreless inning and allowed just one hit.
So do the math, and that's three scoreless innings with one hit. Not too shabby, at all.
The Rangers could be moving Soria before the July 31 trade deadline, and that would be a big sign that the Rangers believe Feliz could be back to full strength by next season. Time will tell, but in a lost season, Feliz's progress is one thing to keep your eye on.