8/16/2014 7:58 P.M. ET
Feliz throwing harder, reaping rewards in recent outings
By Dave Sessions / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- In four outings since blowing a save at Cleveland on Aug. 3, Rangers righty Neftali Feliz has continued to improve his velocity and retired 12 out of 14 batters faced, including a strikeout of Josh Hamilton for the Rangers' final out in Friday's loss against the Angels.
It's a good sign for the closer who underwent Tommy John surgery in mid-2012, appeared in only six Major League games in 2013 and toiled in the Minors for the first half of the season while trying to return to the form he showed as the closer on back-to-back American League championship teams.
Feliz's fastball was hovering closer to 90 mph until recently.
"It's just a matter of him going out there trusting his arm," manager Ron Washington said. "He probably had some doubts in his mind. But the thing that I'm only concerned about is that he gets outs. His last three outings, he's been at 93, 94, but more than that has been his placement. … You don't really have to have a whole lot of velocity to get good results if you can make good pitches.
"The more good pitches he can make, and the more outs he gets, of course, his confidence goes sky high."
Even with save opportunities in scant supply, a closer still needs regular work. The Rangers don't want Feliz on the shelf for too long no matter what. He has not pitched on more than three days' rest this season other than his first appearance after the All-Star break.
"After about two days, we'll try to get him in there, [even] if we only let him face a batter," Washington said. "We've definitely got to keep him going."
Feliz is 0-1 with four saves, a 2.45 ERA and 11 strikeouts in 18 1/3 innings this season.
With ankle improving, Rios stays in right field
ARLINGTON -- Still nursing a sprained right ankle, Alex Rios started in right field Saturday for the second consecutive game after a successful test the night before.
Manager Ron Washington said Rios will get another day at designated hitter Sunday, but said Rios declared himself healthy enough to play the field after Saturday.
"I'm talking to him, finding out how he's feeling, what he can handle," Washington said. "[He said] that he's fine, that everything went well, he wasn't challenged, he was able to do what he needed to do. … I'm letting him know that there's nothing against him telling me that he doesn't want to go back out there."
Shin-Soo Choo, who has battled a left ankle injury for much of the season, was at designated hitter Saturday and will likely play in right Sunday if Rios is at DH.
Washington lifted Rios for pinch-hitter Daniel Robertson in the bottom of the eighth on Friday. That's highly unusual for Rios, normally a strong baserunner, but Washington said Rios "was OK" with leaving the diamond.
"He's still going to feel it when he's doing those turns on the basepaths," Washington said. "It's almost like Choo, it's not going to heal until he doesn't have to be on it anymore. He's going to have some good days, and he's going to have some bad days."
Bullpen breaking in a bunch of rookies
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers' bullpen is not exactly loaded with experience these days. Right now, it has three extremely green rookies, with Phil Klein, Alex Claudio and Jon Edwards all making their Major League debuts this month. And though Roman Mendez has already made 16 appearances, his debut came in early July.
Klein, who debuted on Aug. 1, has pitched in five games. Claudio has made three appearances for the Rangers, pitching in each of the past three games. Edwards made his big-league debut in Friday night's loss to the Angels.
Manager Ron Washington hasn't seen the rookie relievers much on the mound at Globe Life Park, but he doesn't have to guess how often and how much to use them.
"We know from the reporting that comes with them how many times they've been back to back, how many times they've gone three days in a row, the amount of pitches they've thrown in each one of those outings," Washington said. "So we have an idea of the length they can give. ... The other day when Klein was out there, he told us he's gone 49 before. He got 2 2/3 innings in 28 or 29, but he said he's gone 49 before. So we have an idea of how many pitches they've thrown and how long they've gone."
• Rangers ace Yu Darvish, who is on the 15-day disabled list until at least Aug. 25 with right elbow inflammation, will not travel with the team to Miami for the Rangers' two-game series beginning Tuesday. Darvish will continue to undergo treatment, but he is not yet in a throwing program and the team says there is no timetable for that at this point.
• After going 4-for-4 on Friday, Adrian Beltre had 191 hits, 33 homers, 119 RBIs and 202 hits against the Angels -- his most against any opponent in all those categories.
• Stormy weather hit the Dallas-Fort Worth area on Saturday afternoon, but moved away quickly enough for the game to start on time. The Rangers still haven't had a rain delay for a home game in 2014.
Dave Sessions is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.