Texas ponders options as Feliz goes on DL
Sprained elbow ligament to shelve righty through All-Star break
SEATTLE -- Rangers pitcher Neftali Feliz is expected to be sidelined at least through the All-Star break and perhaps longer after being diagnosed with a sprained ligament in his right elbow.Scott Feldman is expected to replace Feliz in the rotation and start Wednesday against the Mariners. General manager Jon Daniels said the club will sit down and discuss possible options beyond Wednesday. "Everything is on the table," Daniels said. That includes the possibility of signing free-agent pitcher Roy Oswalt. The Rangers watched him throw last week, although Daniels said Oswalt is not ready to step in to a Major Leagiue rotation right now. "He hasn't faced hitters yet," Daniels said. "He's definitely going to take some time. But we've got to consider all our options, and he has to be one of them considering that he's unsigned." Alexi Ogando could also get consideration to return to the rotation, but two factors work against that. Unlike Feldman, who has made two spot starts, Ogando is not "stretched out" and has not pitched more than two innings in a single outing so far this season. Feldman went 4 2/3 innings in a start against the Royals last Monday in Arlington. The other factor is Ogando is one of the Rangers' top setup relievers, and there is some reluctance to remove him from that role. "That's the reality of the situation," Daniels said. "He's not prepared to go into the rotation right now. You also have to look at the consequences to our bullpen. Scott has made a couple of starts, he's basically gone five innings and he's ready to go." The Rangers also aren't ready to promote either left-hander Martin Perez or right-hander Neil Ramirez from Triple-A Round Rock. Perez is 3-4 with a 5.72 ERA in nine starts while Ramirez is 4-4 with a 6.75 ERA in nine starts. Perez has allowed 14 runs over five innings in his last two starts while Ramirez has allowed 21 runs in 15 innings over his last three starts. Perez (No. 2) and Ramirez (No. 8) are among the Rangers' top prospects, according to MLB.com.
"It's about consistency at the Major League level," Daniels said. "Those guys have had outings where they've shown everything we love about them, but their last few outings have been below a level in which we can count on. Until we see consistency, it's hard to count on that."Daniels said it's also unlikely that they will call up Barret Loux or Justin Grimm from Double-A Frisco. Both have pitched well so far this season. "I would expect [Feldman] to continue to start, but we haven't sat down and talked about it," Daniels said. Oswalt is an 11-year veteran who won 20 games for the Astros in both 2004 and 2005. He was 9-10 with a 3.69 ERA in 23 games for the Phillies last season but has yet to sign with anybody. The Rangers had some interest in him during the offseason but declined to pursue it seriously. Oswalt, who lives in Mississippi, has expressed a desire to pitch for the Rangers or the Cardinals, but is also being looked at by the Tigers, Red Sox and other clubs. "We're going to consider all our options and what's best for the club going forward, whether it's internal options or external," Daniels said. Feliz first experienced some soreness in a start against the Angels on May 13. He thought it was normal soreness and didn't say anything. But the soreness was still there after Friday's start against the Astros. He brought it to the club's attention, and the Rangers sent him to Arlington on Monday to have an MRI. The examination showed a sprain in the ulnar collateral ligament but no tear. He will not throw for at least four weeks. Once he gets clearance, Feliz will begin a throwing program but will likely need several weeks to rebuild his arm strength. "Obviously he's going to be down for a little while," Daniels said. "We're going to review our options and see where we are going to go from here." Feliz spent the past two years as the Rangers' closer before being switched to the rotation this season. Daniels said the Rangers have to consider the possibility that moving into the rotation contributed to the problem. "That's something we have to talk about," Daniels said. "We don't know the answer. He is as strong and as well-conditioned as he's ever been. There weren't any warning signs. But everything is on the table for discussion."
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.