Neftali Feliz is still trying to rediscover what made him one of the league's best closers in 2010 and 2011 and what helped him notch 40 saves and earn AL Rookie of the Year honors in 2010, while leading the Rangers to their first postseason win and first AL pennant.
Those two seasons — 2010 and 2011 — were great ones for Feliz, who was one of the many bounties the Rangers got in return for the famed Mark Teixeira trade to Atlanta.
Then came the ill-fated move to the starting rotation in 2012, which went OK but ended after seven starts with a trip to the DL that ended up requiring Tommy John surgery, putting him out until September 2013.
Feliz had every chance to win the closer's job in spring training last year, but lost out to Joakim Soria and started the year in the minors. Then, when the Rangers threw in the towel and traded Soria, they called up Feliz to reassume his role, and the results were generally good.
Feliz went 2-1 with 13 saves in 30 appearances, posting a 1.99 ERA, but struggled to find the velocity that made him so good in 2010 and 2011, usually topping out in the mid 90s with his fastball instead of occasionally hitting triple-digits like he did back then.
In his first official bullpen session in Arizona, Feliz impressed pitching coach Mike Maddux, who said he saw what he hoped to see at this point.
"Neftali looked sharp," Maddux told MLB.com. "I see a guy recommitted to why he was good and what he has to do to be good. He looks really good. His attitude is to take nothing for granted. You saw that sometimes in the past, but I don't see any signs of that this year."