Last Call on Monday…Feliz blows away Rockies.

Neftali Feliz pitched in a save situation on Monday afternoon and showed both the arm and stuff that has made him such a highly-regarded prospect.

He blew away three straight hitters to strike out the side in the Rangers 7-6 victory. He threw eight pitches at 100 miles per hour or better and four that clicked in at 101. The Rangers did not see that at the end of last season when Feliz was dragging through the final month at a mere 94-95 miles per hour.

“It definitely feels good,” Feliz said. “Last year, going through the whole thing, coming up from the Minors, and it started to hit me. I think all the work I’ve done paid off. I felt great.”

Feliz also absorbed a lesson from manager Ron Washington and pitching coach Mike Maddux. While he was a starter, they wanted him to pitch. As a one-inning reliever, they want him to blow hitters away. Feliz did that on Monday.

“That’s what we wanted to see,” Washington said. “Let it go and throw it in the strike zone. Sometimes he goes out there and tries to please everybody. We just want him to leave it out there.”

Feliz came to camp hoping to be a starter but will be used in the bullpen again as one of the Rangers late-inning setup relievers. He could be the primary guy if he keeps throwing like this.

“I just want to go out there and do my best in whatever role they give me,” Feliz said.

He said it:
“My mechanics got out of whack. (Pitching coach) Mike Maddux told me I was opening up too much and not staying on line to the plate. After that, I started kind of clicking, getting into a groove and throwing more strikes. After I got that fixed, my arm came back to life and I started pounding the zone.”
Pitcher Matt Harrison after allowing six runs in seven innings in 106 pitches on Monday.

Minor League pitching plan: The Rangers Minor League pitching plans are starting to be formulated, according to farm director Scott Servais.

* The Rangers rotation at Triple A Oklahoma City will include Brandon McCarthy, Derek Holland and Michael Ballard. Another candidate is Guillermo Moscoso, who is still in Major League camp.

* Kasey Kiker, the Rangers No. 1 draft pick in 2006, will continue to start but the Rangers haven’t decided if it will be at Oklahoma City or Double A Frisco. He was 7-7 with a 3.86 ERA in 23 starts and two relief appearances at Frisco last year.

* Uber-prospect Martin Perez will be at Frisco. So will 2007 first round draft pick Blake Beavan. Michael Main, also taken in the first round in 2007, is likely to be at Class A Bakersfield. Neil Ramirez, a supplemental pick that year, is likely to be at Class A Hickory.

* Alexi Ogando will begin the season in the Frisco rotation. The Rangers will likely limit his outings to 3-4 innings but they want him to work on his secondary pitches.

* Tanner Scheppers will start in the Frisco bullpen. He could end up starting at some point but the Rangers want to carefully monitor his pitches at the beginning of the season.

* Omar Beltre is a candidate to be the closer at Triple A Oklahoma City. Pedro Strop is another option in that role.

Kinsler and others: Second baseman Ian Kinsler (sprained right ankle), had no problems on Monday morning after taking batting practice on Sunday. He will take more batting practice on Monday. He still needs to do some running and agility drills that include lateral movement before he is ready to play in a game. That probably won’t happen until tomorrow.

That is also a big hurdle.

“I have to be able to run,” Kinsler said. “That’s my game. I can’t just jog around the bases.”

* Jarrod Saltalamacchia is playing in an A game today. He is officially over his neck spasms. He caught six innings and was 0-for-3 at the plate.

* Darren O’Day is throwing on flat-ground today. A mound session would be next. He is still hoping to pitch in a Minor League Game.

* Dustin Nippert, Darren Oliver, Doug Mathis and Neftali Feliz are pitching in Minor League games on Tuesday night on the Kansas City side of the complex. Nippert has been pitching in Minor League games because his mechanics and delivery fell out of whack and he has been trying to pull everything back together.

 

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