Feliz, Davis key in Rangers' roster discussions

Feliz, Davis key in Rangers' roster discussions

Feliz, Davis key in Rangers' roster discussions
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Pitcher Neftali Feliz and infielder Chris Davis were two prime topics of discussion when the Rangers had their first big meeting of Spring Training to go over their 25-man roster Friday afternoon.

Club president Nolan Ryan and general manager Jon Daniels were in the two-hour meeting along with other front-office personnel, manager Ron Washington and his coaching staff.

The Rangers have not come to any major decisions on either player, at least decisions that they are willing to discuss publicly. Right now Feliz continues to be used as a starter and Davis continues to be used as much as possible at first and third base.

Feliz will start on Saturday against the Mariners in Surprise. He was the Rangers closer last season and saved 40 games while being named American League Rookie of the Year.

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The Rangers still think he has a possible future as a No. 1 starter but aren't ready to commit either way just yet.

"Nothing has changed," Daniels said. "We're just trying to put together the best staff we can but we're also taking into consideration, where do we go from here? We've got to balance this year with the next few. Our focus is to win in 2011 but we can't turn blind eyes to beyond that."

There has been a strong feeling in camp that as far as this season is concerned, the Rangers would be better off with Feliz in the bullpen. That still seems the likely course. Part of that supposition has been how well the candidates for the rotation have pitched to this point. But the Rangers aren't through evaluating Derek Holland, Matt Harrison, Tommy Hunter, Michael Kirkman, Alexi Ogando and David Bush.

The Rangers came out of Friday's meeting still leaving open the possibility of Feliz starting.

"It's really getting into the last couple of weeks and see how everything is shaping and how the other pitchers vying for starting spots are doing," Ryan said. "It's still up in the air. In areas where people are competing, they are going to get every opportunity they can."

Said Washington, "We talked about a million things There are a lot of guys here making it tough. There are a lot of decisions to make. It has been a long time since the Texas Rangers have been in this position. We love it."

Davis was certainly high on the agenda. That's not surprising considering he has been the talk of camp almost from the beginning. The chatter reached a new high on Thursday night when he crushed a grand slam off Padres closer Heath Bell.

Davis is hitting .405 (17-for-42) with six doubles, four home runs and a Cactus League-leading 15 RBIs. By all accounts, he has opened some eyes again.

"It's hard not to take notice of what he's done in Spring Training and the progress he has made," Ryan said. "He is going to get a lot of at-bats between now and the end of Spring Training."

Davis hit .192 with one home run and four RBIs in 45 games at the Major League level last season. The Rangers have to decide if this can carry over into the regular season and Davis is doing a good job convincing people.

"It was Heath Bell, it wasn't somebody with a defensive lineman's jersey on," Daniels said.

"There is a difference," Washington said. "We can see a difference in his approach and there's a difference in the way he's going about his business. He's maturing."

Davis was the Rangers Opening Day first baseman the past two years, but was unable to keep the job. Mitch Moreland has the job and has done nothing to lose it. He is also enjoying an excellent spring, hitting .375 with a .432 on-base percentage.

"He has been as consistent as anybody in camp," Ryan said. "Defensively, the more he plays, the better he gets."

So if Moreland is still the first baseman, it will be difficult to find a spot for Davis. He has played third base but that job belongs to Adrian Beltre, with Michael Young at designated hitter. That doesn't leave too many scenarios that include Davis on the Opening Day roster.

"It's premature to say that," said Daniels, who has received inquiries from other teams about Davis.

Moreland could play the outfield. But, at least for now, the Rangers have no openings in their outfield. The plan is still for Josh Hamilton in left, Julio Borbon in center, Nelson Cruz in the right and David Murphy backing up all four.

Borbon has had a good spring offensively to this point, hitting .357 (15-for-42) in his first 15 games. He also made five errors in the outfield, including three dropped fly balls. His defensive play has been disconcerting.

"It's a premium defensive position," Daniels said. "He's out there for his defense. That's what we need first and foremost."

Washington came into camp committed to Borbon as his center fielder. That is still the case, although the Rangers, including outfield coach Gary Pettis, have spoken to Borbon about his defense.

"He just needs to concentrate and focus a little harder, and not take anything for granted," Washington said. "He's got things to correct and he will correct [them].

"You never know, but right now he is my center fielder. Hopefully things will work themselves out and that won't change."

There are still two weeks to go before Opening Day. The competition continues but the Rangers are getting closer to some major decisions.

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.