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November 21, 2011

Rangers move Neftali Feliz to rotation, sign Joe Nathan to close

Big news from the two-time defending American League champions. The Rangers have signed former All-Star closer Joe Nathan to a two-year contract with a club option and have moved Neftali Feliz to the starting rotation. That could be indication that the Rangers are out on the bidding for C.J. Wilson, though a source indicated that the Rangers haven't ruled out trying to re-sign the free agent.

Nathan missed all of the 2010 season after having Tommy John elbow replacement surgery. The right-hander, who turns 37 on Tuesday, saved 14 games last year for Minnesota after a lousy start to the season. His best two months were July and September.

The Rangers will be betting on the belief that pitchers recovering from Tommy John surgery are better in their second full season back. They are gambling that Feliz can be the type of dominating starter they envisioned when they traded for him in 2007.

Feliz started through his minor-league career until the Rangers believed he could make an impact in their bullpen as they tried to chase down a playoff berth in 2009. He became the closer after one week of the 2010 season, and was the AL Rookie of the Year.

He was the closer again in 2011 after bidding for the rotation in spring training. Team president Nolan Ryan said that Feliz would have been a starter had they had another option at closer. They do now in Nathan, and also add a cheaper alternative to Wilson to the rotation and one with more upside.

-- Jeff Wilson

 

 

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Tommy John surgery does not involve replacing the elbow.

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