Feliz makes headway in first rehab start

Feliz makes headway in first rehab start

Feliz makes headway in first rehab start
FRISCO, Texas -- Neftali Feliz's first rehab start was pushed back to Monday in Double-A Frisco after his scheduled outing with Triple-A Round Rock got rained out Sunday.

When Feliz took the mound in a game for the first time in nearly two months, he got off to a shaky start against Double-A San Antonio.

The right-hander retired the first batter he faced, but he walked two of the next three. Then Edinson Rincon hit a ground ball up the middle that was backhanded by second baseman Leury Garcia, who threw across his body and wide of first baseman Chris McGuinness. That infield single allowed Dean Anna to score an unearned run off Feliz on a play that could have ended the inning. With runners on the corners, Feliz fanned Ali Solis, his second strikeout of the inning, to prevent any further damage.

"I had a long time without pitching off a mound in a live game," Feliz said. "But I was trying to practice on all my pitches, not only offspeed pitches. I was trying to get outs as quick as I could."

Feliz was much more efficient in the second inning. Feliz retired the side and struck out the last two hitters he faced, getting Rymer Liriano looking at a 79-mph curveball while Jeudy Valdez couldn't hold up his check swing on a 77-mph curve in the dirt. After throwing 29 pitches in the first inning, Feliz threw only 11 in the second, all but one for a strike. With his fastball topping out at 96 mph, he threw 40 pitches on the night, 25 for strikes, fanning four and walking two.

"I was just trying to locate my pitches low and for strikes," Feliz said. "That's what I did in the second inning."

Feliz's first rehab start was originally scheduled for Sunday in Triple-A Round Rock, but the Express' series finale against Memphis was rained out. Round Rock headed to Nashville, Tenn., on Monday as Feliz made his way to Frisco to begin his rehab assignment there.

His last appearance was on May 18 against the Astros. Feliz, who is 3-1 with a 3.16 ERA, was placed on the disabled list with right elbow inflammation three days later.

"I feel good about my arm," Feliz said. "Throwing faster, I know I can do that at any time when I'm completely healthy. I was just trying to keep my pitches low. I wasn't trying to be overpowering."

His second rehab start is set for Friday in Round Rock, when he will throw three innings. Feliz will likely make at least two more Minor League starts after this week. Express pitching coach Terry Clark said this weekend that Feliz would throw four or five innings in his third rehab start and around six innings in his fourth, although nothing has been finalized. It's unclear yet whether Feliz will come back to the Rangers as a starter or reliever, although he is preparing during his rehab assignment to return to the rotation.

"Nobody has said anything," Feliz said. "The first thing I want to do is be ready. I started the season as a starter, but, where they are and where I am, I'm trying to help the team any way I can."

Feliz first threw off a mound two weeks ago when the Rangers were in Chicago for a three-game series against the White Sox, and his last bullpen session came on July 9 at the team's facility in the Dominican Republic. He threw 54 pitches during live batting practice Thursday in Arlington, facing Alberto Gonzalez, Brandon Snyder, Leonys Martin and Mitch Moreland, who has been on the DL with a strained hamstring since June 22.

He is one of five Rangers pitchers currently on the disabled list, although reinforcements are expected soon. Alexi Ogando (strained groin) and Koji Uehara (strained lat), who both completed rehab assignments in Round Rock on Saturday, are expected to be activated Tuesday, while Colby Lewis (forearm tightness) is scheduled to start for the Rangers on Wednesday against the A's.

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