Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Rangers Neftali Feliz May Yet Convert to Starter

One would think now with former Rangers saves leader Frank Francisco traded to Toronto, teammate Neftali Feliz could stop looking over his shoulder and settle down and focus on being exactly what he is: one of the major leagues' most outstanding closers.

But no-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o!

With pitchers and catchers scheduled to report to spring camp in Surprise. Ariz., in less than two weeks, the Rangers continue contemplating stretching him out to join the top of a rather spotty rotation.

"I love having a lock-down closer, I do," Rangers General Manager Jon Daniels said in a recent interview with KTKS Radio "The Fan." "But there's no doubt he would be even more valuable to us as a No. 1 or No. 2 starter."

Francisco's departure in the trade for former Angels catcher Mike Napoli only puts what Daniels describes as a "new wrinkle" in the proposition, especially since he has two or three other possibilities as closers, most notably Alexi Ogando, 27, who can throw as high as the mid-90s and strikes out a batter an inning. Ogando notched a 1.30 ERA last year in a little more than 40 innings.

Look for Rangers President Nolan Ryan to break the logjam before the end of the month, and expect Feliz to start getting extra work by the end of the month.