After long journey, Feliz back in the bigs

After long journey, Feliz back in the bigs

NEW YORK -- Former All-Star closer Neftali Feliz is back in the Major Leagues.

Feliz was called up on Friday, with Ben Rowen optioned back to Triple-A Round Rock. Manager Ron Washington said that the Rangers needed a fresh arm in the bullpen, and Feliz was the best available at Triple-A.

The Rangers went to Feliz right away on Friday, as he took over in the sixth inning for Yu Darvish. Feliz pitched two scoreless innings, with two walks and two strikeouts. He left with the score tied at 4.

Feliz will likely be used in middle relief and occasionally as a setup man until he returns to his form of 2010 and 2011. He is not here to replace Joakim Soria.

"As long as Joakim Soria is available, he is the closer," Washington said. "Unequivocably."

"I'm ready when they need me -- ninth, seventh, eighth," Feliz said. "Wherever they want me."

Feliz was the Rangers' closer in 2010 and 2011 before undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2012, and he has spent the past two seasons trying to come back from the procedure. The Rangers were hoping he could reclaim his old job during Spring Training, but his velocity was down and his mechanics were off.

Feliz was optioned to Round Rock and has spent the past three months trying to work his way up to the Majors. In the Minors he went 1-1 with a 3.14 ERA and seven saves in 24 games. In 28 2/3 innings he allowed 19 hits and eight walks, and struck out 31.

"I did a lot of work on my mechanics," Feliz said. "I wasn't frustrated. That was not my job to get frustrated. My job was to get better. I just kept working hard every day."

Feliz did not allow a run in his last eight outings at Round Rock, but the Rangers still aren't ready to pronounce him 100 percent.

"He can still get in trouble before he gets after it," Washington said. "We want him to get after it right when he walks out of the bullpen."

Rowen had a 4.15 ERA in eight appearances and had pitched in four of the past five games.

"There were times when he was efficient, but this didn't have anything to do with being efficient or inefficient," Washington said. "We needed a fresh arm, and [Rowen] was the guy who had pitched the most."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for 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.