Feliz fires shutout inning in Tigers debut

Ex-Texas closer signs as free agent; Ferrell sent to Triple-A

Feliz fires shutout inning in Tigers debut

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Tigers went looking for bullpen reinforcements and evidently found what they were looking for in Neftali Feliz. A day after a seven-run bullpen meltdown in the ninth inning, the Tigers announced the signing of Feliz on Saturday.

They put him to work almost immediately. Manager Brad Ausmus said before the game they'd like to start Feliz out in a lower-stress situation because he hadn't pitched in more than a week, which is exactly what the Tigers did. Feliz came on in the eighth inning of the Tigers' 9-5 loss to the Twins.

"He was good," Ausmus said. "If he can pitch similar to that on a regular basis, he can be a nice addition to the bullpen."

Feliz, 27, gave up an infield single to Twins right fielder Torii Hunter before getting Joe Mauer to ground into a double play and striking out Miguel Sano swinging.

Feliz, who was designated for assignment on July 3 by the Texas Rangers, was 1-2 with a 4.58 ERA in 18 games. He elected free agency after clearing waivers. Feliz, a closer by trade, was an All-Star in 2010, saving 40 games that year in 70 appearances.

To open a roster spot, the Tigers optioned right-hander Jeff Ferrell back to Triple-A Toledo. Ferrell made two appearances since his callup earlier this month and gave up three runs in two innings.

Ferrell's first career strikeout

Feliz said before the game he had been running and playing catch and that he was excited to join the Tigers -- just the second team he's played for in his career.

"I've had ups and downs [this year] but I've tried to keep working every day to try to be better and better," he said.

Ausmus said Feliz, like the other relievers, would not have a defined role at this point.

"I've said before, we'd love to give guys roles but we don't really have any," Ausmus said. "No one's really shown an aptitude for a particular role other than [closer Joakim Soria]."

Still, the former closer in Feliz gives Ausmus some options out of a bullpen that desperately needs the help. The Tigers' bullpen entered Saturday with a 4.04 ERA, 25th in the Majors.

"He's a guy who has closed before," Ausmus said "If you can close, generally you can handle any other situation out of the bullpen, except for maybe long relief. "

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