Neftali Feliz wants to keep starting

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Neftali Feliz hopes to remain in the Texas Rangers' starting rotation when he returns from the disabled list.

Manager Ron Washington isn't even ready to discuss that scenario, since the hard-throwing right-hander, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list Monday with a right elbow strain, is at least a few weeks away from picking up a baseball.

The 24-year-old Feliz is in his first season in the Rangers' rotation after filling the closer's role during the team's two American League championship seasons.

Feliz, an All-Star in 2010, is 3-1 with a 3.16 ERA and 37 strikeouts in 42 2/3 innings this season.

"My mind is coming back to start, being back in the rotation," Feliz said through an interpreter Friday, the first time he has spoken to reporters since being put on the disabled list. "That's what I think. ... It's not going to be my decision. It is up to them. Of course, I wouldn't like (going back to the bullpen), but it is up to them."

The decision could be heavily influenced if the Rangers acquire an established starting pitcher, such as Roy Oswalt, while Feliz is sidelined. Rangers representatives watched Oswalt throw last week, before Feliz was placed on the disabled list, and have had discussions with Oswalt's agent, Bob Garber.

Washington said it's premature to discuss whether Feliz should remain a starter or go back to the bullpen, regardless of whether the Rangers add a pitcher to replace him in the meantime.

"First, Nefti has got to get healthy," Washington said. "We're not ready to discuss what he's going to do or what he's not going to do. Get healthy and then when we get to that point, we'll make that decision. That's what Nefti needs to focus on, not worrying about what he's going to do or what he's not going to do. That's not even a conversation right now because he can't even pick up a ball."

In the meantime, Scott Feldman is filling the role of the Rangers' fifth starter. Feldman, a 17-game winner in 2009 who has been primarily a long reliever the last two seasons, is 0-2 with a 5.11 ERA in three spot starts this season, failing to get out of the fifth inning in any of those outings.

The Rangers are likely to send Feliz to their spring training complex in Surprise, Ariz., to rehab once he is ready to throw again. The plan until that point is to keep Feliz with the team.

"Things like this happen," Feliz said. "What I have to do is keep my head up and keep working."