Rangers' Bullpen Could Soon Add El Duque and Feliz

Matthew IrbySenior Analyst IJune 25, 2009

SURPRISE, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 24:  Neftali Feliz #66 of the Texas Rangers during photo day at Surprise Stadium on February 24, 2009 in Surprise, Arizona. (Photo by: Harry How/Getty Images)

On Wednesday the Texas Rangers’ front office made two separate moves in attempts to build up the team’s bullpen.

Earlier in the month the Rangers signed former Major Leaguer Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez to a minor league contract.  El Duque was sent to Triple-A Oklahoma City but not activated right away.

The team wanted him to throw some bullpen sessions to see what he had left in his tank and to see how his pitches looked.  Apparently the team liked what they saw because on Wednesday El Duque was activated and put into the bullpen.

Later in the day he pitched against the Round Rock Express in the eight inning.  It took him only 11 pitches to get through the inning with two strikeouts and a fly out.

Though he has been a starter in the past it looks as if the Rangers are looking for him to become a viable option in the bullpen for the second half of the season.

In other news, according to multiple sources, the Rangers are moving their top pitching prospect Neftali Feliz from the rotation to the bullpen.

Feliz has spent the entire year with Triple-A Oklahoma City and in his 13 starts he has a 3-5 record with a 3.86 ERA.  He has pitched 60.2 innings, given up 59 hits, 27 walks, and struck out 55.

Jon Daniels told reporters, “We’d like to see if he’s an option to help the Major League club in that role.  He’s scheduled to throw an inning there tomorrow.  We still feel he may start for us in the future, but we’re going down that road first.”

I believe that the move is exactly that, this has nothing to do with him possibly being a relief pitcher in his career.  This move happening to get him used to the bullpen and throwing every day or every other day before being promoted to the Majors.

It’s no secret the Rangers are struggling right now, but last night’s win could be the first step to getting back on track.  Having El Duque in the bullpen would be another step forward.  And finally getting to see Feliz in a Rangers uniform could be a third step forward.

And that is all without even mentioning that Josh Hamilton is getting healthier.