Rangers activate Feliz, option Martinez

Rangers activate Feliz, option Martinez

BALTIMORE -- The Rangers reinstated right-hander Neftali Feliz from the 15-day disabled list on Thursday and optioned right-hander Nick Martinez to Triple-A Round Rock.

The move comes as somewhat of a surprise, as Martinez (5-5, 3.43 ERA) has pitched well this season, especially in April, when he posted a 2-0 record and 0.35 ERA. But more than anything, the move was made to give him some rest and make a spot in the rotation for left-hander Matt Harrison.

"[Nick has] had a great first half, and you could tell all the things that he's learned in the second half of last year, he's applied this year and continued to go," general manager Jon Daniels said in a phone call with reporters. "We'll use it to give him a blow and look at the calendar, look at the schedule, see how other guys are doing, and I'm sure you will see him up at some point down the line."

Martinez, who has thrown 97 innings this season, will continue to pitch in Round Rock, but not as many innings or with the same intensity. He threw 140 innings last season, and manager Jeff Banister said that they would like him to throw around 175 to 180 this year.

His departure opens a rotation spot for Harrison, who was placed on the 60-day disabled list on April 5 as he recovered from the spinal fusion surgery he underwent last June. Harrison has missed the better part of the past two seasons dealing with back issues but made six rehab starts between Double-A Frisco and Round Rock this season, posting a 6.23 ERA in 34 2/3 innings.

In his last rehab start, on Wednesday, his fastball sat in the mid-80s. He is scheduled to join Texas' rotation on either Tuesday or Wednesday.

"We talked over the winter, and when you guys would ask about it, I wasn't sure if this day would come just based on the lack of history with this particular situation," Daniels said. "It's time. He's not going to get anything more out of additional Minor League starts at this point. It's time to put him out in the big stadium and get the adrenaline going and see where it goes from here."

Martinez is expected to return after the All-Star break, which would make for a crowded rotation. Banister isn't committing to anything, but both he and Daniels are looking at and evaluating the option of a six-man rotation.

"We are definitely looking at it, evaluating it and weighing all of our options now." Banister said. "There is a stretch where we play 18 straight. We've got to continue to evaluate every night and how all these guys come out of each outing and where they are at. It is definitely a possibility in some form. Not going to say, 'Yeah, that's what we're going to do,' and I'm not going to say that we wouldn't do it."

Feliz was placed on the DL on May 25 with an abscess on his right side and underwent a procedure soon after to address the injury.

In 17 relief appearances earlier this season, Feliz went 1-2 with a 5.09 ERA. With Round Rock, during his rehab assignment, he allowed nine earned runs in 11 innings.

Connor Smolensky is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.