Neftali Feliz to start year at Triple-A

Neftali Feliz has gone from the front-runner for the Texas Rangers' closer job to starting the season at Triple-A Round Rock.

The Rangers optioned the reliever to the minors on Tuesday. Last week, the club announced that Joakim Soria would be the closer and that Feliz would be competing for a spot in the bullpen.

Feliz, 25, struggled with his velocity and command during spring training after reports were positive from his winter ball experience. His fastball sat in the 92-93 mph range, rather than the upper 90s, where it was in winter ball.

He posted a 4.50 ERA in nine Cactus League appearances. Opponents hit .310 against him.

Feliz, who closed for the Rangers in 2010 and '11, was hoping to earn the job back this spring. The American League's rookie of the year in 2010, he moved from the bullpen to the rotation in 2012. He made seven starts before needing Tommy John surgery in August of that season. Feliz made six appearances in 2013 for Texas, giving up no runs in 4 2/3 innings with four strikeouts and two walks.

Texas also sent relievers Rafael Perez and Aaron Poreda to minor league camp Tuesday.