Texas Rangers Sign Closer Joe Nathan, Move Neftali Feliz Into Starting Rotation

By Jeric Griffin

The Texas Rangers will indeed move Neftali Feliz into the starting rotation. This moves comes following the Rangers’ signing of free agent closer Joe Nathan. A former Minnesota Twin, Nathan is a four-time All Star who the Rangers will give the pitching staff a boost, especially if 2011 ace CJ Wilson signs with the Los Angeles Angels via free agency .

Nathan underwent Tommy John surgery in March of 2010, causing him to miss the entire season. However, Texas believed his 2011 recovery was enough to prove he’s still an elite closer. Nathan pitched 48 games this past season, saving 14 and holding eight while posting an ERA of 4.84.

The Rangers are actually hoping Nathan can return to his 2009 form, a year in which he saved 47 games with a 2.10 ERA. The 37-year-old was brought to Texas to win now. Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said Nathan’s signing plus Feliz’ move to the rotation completes Texas’ plan for another title run.

“We kind of look at this as almost two acquisitions,” Daniels said. “We’re getting a big-time makeup, big-time pedigree, big-time stuff closer in Joe Nathan; also, moving one of the best arms in our organization, probably one of the best arms in professional baseball to the rotation. That’s a move we thought about and wanted to make the last couple of years, but the timing had to be right, had to be right for the team and also Neftali. We feel the timing is right now.”

This combination of moves also means the Rangers are pessimistic about their chances of re-signing Wilson. However, Texas knows what it’s like to lose an ace following a World Series appearance; Cliff Lee left for Philadelphia following the 2010 season. Feliz is happy the move came this soon so he can prepare for his first starting role in the big leagues.

“I am happy to know the team’s decision this early, and I have plenty of time to get ready. I have already started running,” Feliz said. “I have time to work on my changeup and all my pitches. I know I have to work hard to be ready to help my team as a starter so we can get back to the playoffs.”

Contact Jeric Griffin on Twitter @JericGriffin

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