Feliz looks sharp in third rehab outing

Feliz looks sharp in third rehab outing

Feliz looks sharp in third rehab outing
ROUND ROCK, Texas -- The same night the Rangers announced that Opening Day starter Colby Lewis would miss the remainder of the season after undergoing elbow surgery, Neftali Feliz's third rehab start was moved from Wednesday to Tuesday, with the team realizing it needed him back as soon as possible.

Feliz tossed three scoreless innings for Triple-A Round Rock on Tuesday night against Albuquerque in his third rehab start since being placed on the disabled list with right elbow inflammation on May 21. He gave up one hit, struck out three, and walked one while throwing 54 pitches, 34 for strikes -- an encouraging sign considering the need for reinforcements to the Rangers' rotation.

"I feel good. I was throwing strikes," Feliz said. "I was more aggressive in the strike zone, I was keeping the ball down more, and I was getting it to where I wanted it to be."

The outing was an improvement on Feliz's previous rehab start. He allowed four first-inning runs, only one of them earned, in 1 2/3 innings for Round Rock Friday, issuing two walks and striking out one. Feliz was supposed to throw three innings but was pulled in the second inning because he had already thrown 47 pitches. He gave up an unearned run on one hit while striking out four and walking two in his first rehab start with Double-A Frisco July 16.

"I felt good today," Feliz said. "This time out, I was able to get it over the corners where I wanted to. Last time, I wasn't able to keep it on the corners. Today, I was able to get both corners and throw strikes."

It has yet to be decided whether Feliz will return to the big leagues as a starter or reliever, but the Rangers' rotation is need in of reinforcements after Roy Oswalt was scratched from his start Monday with back stiffness and Lewis was found to have a torn flexor tendon in his right elbow. The Rangers have been in talks regarding potential trades for the Phillies' Cole Hamels and the Brewers' Zack Greinke as the July 31 Trade Deadline looms.

"Colby is a tremendous teammate. You hate to see that happen to him," Feliz said. "You don't ever want to see a teammate go down like that. You want them to contribute like Colby does. As for me, I'm just going to keep doing my work and be ready when they give me the call."

Feliz will make what could be his last rehab start during the first half of a doubleheader Sunday in Memphis.

"It looks like there's going to be a need in the big leagues now whether [Feliz] goes back sooner or not," Round Rock pitching coach Terry Clark said. "He's not far away. Another start and maybe that would be it, two starts if they really wanted him to get to 110-115 pitches. He's really close to where he needs to be."

Feliz is now 0-2 with a 1.35 ERA in three Minor League starts this year and was 3-1 with a 3.16 ERA before being placed on the DL.

"[His fastball] was actually cutting a little bit tonight," Clark said. "I told him, 'Any time it cuts, it's just like a sinker. It's not going to be as hard as your four-seam fastball.' The curveball was good. The changeup was outstanding tonight. Three innings, one hit, without his best fastball, still a very good job."

Mitch Moreland went hitless in three at-bats in the second game of his rehab assignment, striking out swinging and flying out to left field twice. He will drive back to Fort Worth to be with his wife, Susannah, who is expected to give birth Wednesday.

"I'm driving but it'll be like flying," Moreland said. "That's been the only thing in my head. I tried to block it in my mind before the game as best I could, but I'm ready to get back."

He could resume his rehab assignment or return to the Rangers as soon as Friday. Before being placed on the DL with a strained left hamstring June 22, Moreland was batting .272 and slugging .513 with 10 home runs and 25 RBIs.

"It's been a little over a month now since I've seen some pitching," Moreland said. "The last two days, I just tried to see some pitches and let the ball travel a little bit. It's a work in progress."

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