SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) – Starter or reliever? Nolan Ryan and the Texas Rangers are going to have a difficult decision to make when it comes to Neftali Feliz’s role this season.
Perez made his fifth start this spring in his attempt to move into the rotation after setting a rookie record for saves last year, but the Rangers’ bullpen gave up seven runs in a 9-8, 10-inning loss to the Seattle Mariners on Saturday.
“It’s an interesting dilemma,” said Ryan, the Rangers president and part owner. “He’s one of the unique people who could do either and be very successful at it. Can we clone him?”
Feliz, the reigning American League Rookie of the Year, threw 72 pitches in five innings, his longest outing. He allowed two runs and four hits while walking two and striking out three. Feliz, who has a 1.93 ERA this spring, faced 18 batters and retired four on groundouts and five on flyballs.
“Today I thought he looked more starterish than he’s looked so far because of his mound presence and the use of his other pitches,” Ryan said. “He exhibits the ability to start.”
Feliz ran into difficulty in the Mariners’ two-run third when the first four batters reached on two singles and two walks.
Jack Wilson, who went 3 for 3 to raise his average to .500, stroked a run-producing single. Brendan Ryan added a sacrifice fly before Franklin Gutierrez grounded into an inning-ending double play.
“They got the two runs, but it could have been worse,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “They had the bases loaded nobody out and scratched out two runs. He got out of it and did it very easily.”
Feliz, who had 40 saves last year, wants to be in the rotation.
“I’m trying to be a starter,” Feliz said though an interpreter. “That’s what I’m hoping for. I was a starter in the minor leagues, so that’s not really too much of a new thing for me.”
If Feliz starts, the Rangers relievers might have difficulties holding leads.
“I’m not doing a cartwheel,” Ryan said over his bullpen.
The Mariners scored seven runs on seven hits, including four home runs, off Rangers relievers Darren O’Day, Pedro Strop and Justin Miller in the final three innings.
Jack Cust homered twice for the Mariners, including a go-ahead drive to center in the 10th. Cust, Adam Kennedy and Mike Wilson homered in a four-run Seattle eighth off O’Day
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)