The Sad Demise and Likely Departure of Neftali Feliz

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Sure, the Fourth of July 13-0 loss was a dud. And the three-game sweep to the Angels by a gaudy 33-8 was ugly. But to me the most discouraging Rangers’ news over the holiday weekend was the end of Neftali Feliz.

Just five years ago he struck out A-Rod to catapult the Rangers into their first World Series. Now? Designated for assignment and likely to be traded.

It’s a reminder that as slow and timeless and beautiful as it can be, baseball is also cruel bastard.

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Feliz, who arrived in Texas via the celebrated Mark Teixeira trade, blew onto the scene in 2009 with 100-mph fastballs, 77-mph curveballs, a Rookie of the Year Award and limitless potential. He starred as the Rangers’ closer in 2010, and was on the mound in St. Louis as they were one strike away from winning the 2011 World Series.

If Nelson Cruz catches David Freese’s fly ball to right, who knows?

But he didn’t. Instead of getting a save in the championship-winning game, Feliz blew a lead, instantly lost his confidence and was never the same. The Rangers tried to stretch him into a starter, he got injured and now he’s just a disappointing comet who burned bright but ultimately burned out way too soon.

Needing roster room for starter Matt Harrison, the Rangers designated Feliz for assignment after he pitched two scoreless innings against the Angels Friday night. With five years of service, he couldn’t be optioned back to minors without his consent. This week the Rangers will likely trade him, send him through waivers or release him.

Feliz won the closer’s job in spring training, but without the same velocity and ferocity, he kept it only two weeks.

A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.

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