Ron Washington wants 'reinforcements'
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Rangers manager Ron Washington wants general manager Jon Daniels and his front-office group to acquire some bullpen help before Sunday's trade deadline.
"We need reinforcements," Washington said.
The manager watched as closer Neftali Feliz blew a save opportunity Tuesday and feels like the bullpen could use a boost. Washington said his closer needs more fire.
"I'd like to see more fire," Washington said. "I want him to feel like this is do-or-die. That's what a closer does." Washington said he thought he saw more fire from Feliz last year, when he was the AL rookie of the year and had 40 saves. Feliz had three blown saves in 2010. He has five in 2011 and his strikeout-to-walk ratio isn't nearly as good.
One of the biggest names on the market, Heath Bell, has plenty of fire and is someone who's available. Daniels has said for more than a month now that relief help is the club's No. 1 priority before the trade deadline. The Rangers would like to strengthen the late innings for a stretch drive and what they hope is a long October postseason run.
"We're at the trading deadline and we're going to go down the stretch and everybody's intent on making the team better," Washington said. "We're going to make our team better. I think every team that's in the race needs reinforcements. Everybody is trying to do the same thing. Just because I say that, it shouldn't be a big deal. It could turn out we don't do anything because there was nothing there to be done."
Washington added that he was not frustrated with his current squad, only that he'd like to get even better.
Feliz's fastball is still lighting up radar guns, but he hasn't been able to consistently throw off-speed or breaking stuff. In his one inning against the Twins on Tuesday, Feliz threw 26 pitches and 23 were fastballs.
But more than the pitch selection, Washington wants to see focus and fire. Washington said he doesn't know of many closers who don't have that "fire" or are laid-back.
"I just don't see urgency," Washington said. "I just don't see it. I'm not saying it's not there, maybe he's dealing with it in a different manner, but he's not exuding urgency. Maybe that's just his demeanor."
Feliz said it might appear he doesn't have the fire because he's gained more experience as the closer.
"When you say I don't have any fire when I come to the mound, it's because I feel more confident that I can do my job because I've done it already," Feliz said through a translator. "Every time that I come out and I want to give it 100 percent and get the three outs as quickly as I can."
Washington and his staff have tried to keep Feliz's focus the past two seasons, especially in games that were save opportunities.
"Every time I hand him the ball, I try to put him in the right frame of mind," Washington said. "I tell him how important the three outs are."
Richard Durrett covers the Rangers for ESPNDallas.com.