SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers manager Ron Washington said Neftali Feliz will start Tuesday against the Padres in Surprise Stadium. Washington made the announcement shortly after Feliz threw 43 pitches in a bullpen session on Sunday morning, and said he had no problems with his right shoulder. Feliz said he is over the tightness that forced him out of his last start on Tuesday against the Cubs. "I feel fine," Feliz said. "It feels good ... a lot better. I was able to throw all my pitches. I will take tomorrow off and be ready to go on Tuesday."
The goal on Tuesday will be to throw 65-70 pitches. He would have one more start after that in Arizona that could get him up to 80-90 pitches. Washington said that would be sufficient to have him ready for the regular season if there were no further setbacks. "He felt good today and the ball came out of his hand well," Washington said. "If he comes in tomorrow without any problems, we're going to get him out there on Tuesday." Feliz is expected to be the Rangers' fifth starter. That means he'll make his first start of the season on April 10 against the Mariners at the Ballpark in Arlington. He would likely pitch a simulated game between his last start in Arizona and his first start of the season. The Rangers haven't officially announced their rotation to start the season, but Washington did acknowledge Feliz will start the fifth game. Colby Lewis is expected to be the Opening Day starter, and this spring he has been followed by Derek Holland, Matt Harrison and Yu Darvish in that order. But the Rangers are still considering the possibility of having Darvish move up between Holland and Harrison. That would mean Darvish would pitch the third game of the season on April 8 against the White Sox rather than April 9 against the Mariners. "We haven't made the decision on when we're going to announce the rotation, but it's coming soon," Washington said. Lewis is supposed to pitch on Tuesday, but he'll likely get his work done in a Minor League game. The Rangers want to start Feliz on Tuesday rather than having him wait around to pitch. Feliz, who is being switched to the rotation after two years as the Rangers closer, has made three starts this spring. In eight innings he has allowed four runs on nine hits and two walks while striking out seven.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.