Neftali Feliz will do what helps team

Updated: March 7, 2011, 10:02 PM ET
By Richard Durrett | ESPNDallas.com

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Texas Rangers pitcher Neftali Feliz said Monday that his preference is to close in 2011, but added that he is happy to start if that's what the club needs.

"I've done it before," Feliz said, through a translator, of closing. "I did it in the past and I'm comfortable in that role. I know what it takes and know the preparation."

The 22-year-old had 40 saves in 2010 and was the AL Rookie of the Year. He is working in spring training as a starter, something that could be in his long-term plans.

Feliz recently expressed his desire to close to a few club officials, but is still focused on getting into a routine as a starter.

"I don't feel uncomfortable starting and figuring out that routine," Feliz said. "I know I can do both. I'll just get into the routine of starting and go from there."

General manager Jon Daniels said Feliz will remain stretched out as a starter and the club won't make any decisions on where he ends up for another 10 to 14 days.

"It's understandable that Neftali is comfortable closing," Daniels said. "He had a tremendous year, was an All-Star, Rookie of the Year, all the accolades that came with it. We know he can dominate in that role. We told him that neither way is a disappointment.

"We're going to continue to keep him stretched out. He's going to get his work in. Maybe something changes along the way. We've always said that he's the closer until something changes. It's intriguing to think about what he could do as a starter, but there's no timeframe either. It may be something that never materializes, it may happen at any point in time. Even if it's not this spring, I don't think it limits his ability to do that in the future."

Feliz took a line drive off the left shin on Sunday, but said he's just bruised and is scheduled to make his Wednesday start. He will toss from about 90 feet on Monday, but won't run.

"If I end up starting, I'll go all out," Feliz said. "I won't do anything differently and just try to get outs."

Feliz was 4-3 with a 2.73 ERA to go along with his 40 saves. His triple-digit fastball helped him amass 71 strikeouts in 69 1/3 innings with 18 walks. He's working on his secondary pitches this spring, so that he's not just reliant on his extremely fast fastball or the slider.

Richard Durrett covers the Rangers for ESPNDallas.com.

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