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Thursday, March 3, 2011
Double play caps Feliz's 2 innings

By Jeff Caplan

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Neftali Feliz got out of two-on jams in both of his innings of work in his spring debut Thursday afternoon. He got out of a no-out predicament in the second inning by getting a fly out followed by an inning-ending double play.

Feliz's line in his spring debut in a split-squad game against the Cleveland Indians: Two innings, two hits, one walk, one hit batter and 36 pitches.

The 22-year-old closer who is trying to crack the Texas Rangers’ rotation left after two innings with a 2-0 lead over the Cleveland Indians in a split-squad game. Ian Kinsler led off the bottom of the first with a home run and Mike Napoli knocked in the second run on a sacrifice fly.

Feliz pitched his way out of jams with two on in both innings. In the second, after giving up back-to-back sharply hit singles to start the inning, he got Cord Phelps to fly to left and then Lou Marson chopped a 95-mph fastball to third that Chris Davis turned for a double play to end the inning.

Feliz threw 26 pitches in the first inning to five batters. With one out he walked Asdrubal Cabrera on five pitches and then hit Carlos Santana with a 1-2 curveball that sailed inside and swiped Santana across the chest, putting runners at first and second.

Feliz then got cleanup hitter Travis Buck to fly out to left and Austin Kearns popped out after taking the count from 0-2 to 3-2.

He threw 16 fastballs in the first inning with the majority registering 96 and 97 mph. One was clocked at 99. He also mixed in a slider, changeup and curveball. It his secondary pitches that the Rangers will be paying close to attention to this spring. His command of those pitches, primarily his changeup could determine if Feliz joins the starting rotation or remains in the bullpen as their All-Star closer.

Feliz delivered first-pitch called strikes to five of the nine batters. Four were fastballs and one was a changeup.  

“I’m not saying that if everything is perfect out there for Nefty he couldn’t get away with a fastball and a slider,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said prior to the game. “But, we’re trying to develop a complete pitcher, not just a semi-complete pitcher. He’s had success [in the minors as a starter] with a good changeup and we would like to see it come back.”