ROUND ROCK, Texas -- Neftali Feliz was bound to be rusty when he faced Triple-A hitters for the first time Thursday night as he ramped up his rehab after two outings in the Arizona League.
And he was.
Pitching for Triple-A Round Rock, Feliz, recovering from Tommy John ligament replacement surgery, threw 22 pitches, 11 for strikes. He had two walks and allowed a single. He didn't get out of the fifth inning, leaving with the bases loaded. Express left-hander Ryan Feierabend did come in and get an out as Feliz avoided allowing any runs.
Feliz struggled to command his pitches and allowed a hit on his slider. His changeup also didn't appear to be sharp. His fastball sat around 92 to 93 mph.
"My velocity was OK," Feliz said. "I'm not trying to throw too hard. I want to keep the ball down."
Feliz will pitch again Saturday, then take two days off and pitch next Tuesday. He'll try to go back-to-back for the first time next Friday and Saturday.
The Rangers hope he can help in September. Round Rock pitching coach Brad Holman said Feliz is where you would expect him to be a year after Tommy John surgery. Feliz is getting in a good position with his delivery, but isn't able to get up and over the top of his pitches, something he dealt with when he was setting the Rangers' rookie record for saves.
"He's trying to get back to where he was," Holman said. "He was getting side-to-side, habits that he had when he was going good. He's aware of it. We'll address it and get him ready for his next start."
The good news is Feliz didn't wind up with a line like Michael Kirkman, who made his second rehab start. Kirkman allowed 11 runs in 3 2/3 innings, missing out on tying the Round Rock club record by one. Kirkman allowed eight hits and six walks. He had three wild pitches, which did tie a Round Rock record.
Kirkman, who has been dealing with a form of skin cancer, has been on the disabled list since June 7.