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)
Throughout the past week or so, Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington hasn't given his embattled closer Neftali Feliz a vote of confidence. He said on The Ticket recently that Feliz isn't the closer yet, and the competition is still open, even though all suggestions pointed toward Feliz reclaiming the role he served in Texas in 2010 and 2011, and did so pretty well.
After undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2012, Feliz is still trying to regain his form and has yet to hit the mid-90s with his fastball, which was in the upper 90s and even the 100s in 2010 and 2011. On Sunday, he worked a clean ninth inning in a Cactus League win over the White Sox, and even though his velocity hadn't changed, Washington's take on Feliz had.
“The numbers were the same,” Washington told reporters. “But it sure sounded better. It sounded like it had more life.”
The conventional thought all along has been that Feliz would be the team's closer when it opens the season in a couple of weeks. But Feliz does have competition for the role, most notably from Joakim Soria, a former all-star closer in his own right, and last year's setup man Tanner Scheppers.