Monday, November 1, 2010
GM: No plans to make Neftali Feliz a starter
By Jeff Caplan
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Does Neftali Feliz want to be Nolan Ryan or Mariano Rivera?
"It’s not my decision," Feliz said through an interpreter. "I’ll be ready for whatever they need of me. I want to help the team. I’m happy doing what I’m doing now."
For now, the Texas Rangers view him in the mold of Rivera, widely revered as the game's greatest closer. General manager Jon Daniels said Monday that Feliz will remain in his role as closer next season. The hard-throwing right-hander was among a group of pitchers at spring training competing for a starting job, but C.J. Wilson blew everyone away.
Feliz started the regular season as the set-up man, but when closer Frank Francisco faltered in the opening weeks, Feliz took over and never looked back. He was selected onto the American League All-Star team and his 40 saves established a single-season record by a rookie in his first full big-league season.
In 79 minor-league appearances, Feliz started 53 games. His overall record was 16-16 with a 3.03 ERA.
"Probably the two questions were: Can he close, and can he start?" Daniels said. "You knew that somewhere that arm is going to play. I think we've definitively answered one of them. There's no doubt in anybody's mind he can close. We don't know whether he can start and I don't know if we're going to find out. We've talked about it at some point that we might. We're not going to close that door, but we're also not going to speculate on it any more than is necessary. He's our closer. I would expect he'll be our closer."
In Game 3, Feliz became the second-youngest pitcher to record a save in the World Series behind only Bob Welch. Ryan was second on the list. Obviously, both enjoyed long and successful careers as major-league starters.
"Some guys at different points in their career go into the rotation, like C.J. did for us ... like Kenny Rogers," Daniels said. "A million other guys have done it. So, I would never close that door, but I'm expecting him to be our closer."