Neftali Feliz exits with stiff shoulder

MESA, Ariz. -- Texas Rangers right-handed starter Neftali Feliz did not come out to pitch for the fourth inning on Tuesday because of right shoulder stiffness.

Pitching coach Mike Maddux went to check on Feliz when he returned to the dugout after the third inning (something Maddux does after every inning with his pitchers) and saw Feliz rubbing his shoulder.

"He said it was tight, so we didn't take any chances," Maddux said.

Feliz iced his shoulder and then watched a few innings from the dugout before leaving with some of the regulars and heading back to Surprise, Ariz., to be evaluated.

The 23-year-old threw 54 pitches in three scoreless innings against the Chicago Cubs with a walk and a strikeout. His fastball velocity was 93-95 mph and he did a nice job of pitching out of a few jams. But after the third inning, he did not trot out for the fourth. Left-handed pitcher Neal Cotts came in at that point. Feliz was scheduled to pitch four innings.

Feliz is making the transition from closer to the rotation this spring. He was the AL Rookie of the Year with 40 saves in 2010 and had 32 saves as the closer in 2011. But the club has wanted to see if Feliz could establish the secondary stuff to go along with his lively fastball and become a starter. He's penciled in as the fifth starter as of now.

Feliz was on the disabled list once last season, April 21-May 5, with right shoulder inflammation.

Feliz went through some similar discomfort last spring, before starting the season and eventually landing on the DL. The club isn't sure if this is similar to that or not.

"If it is, we've got to find out what's causing it and make an adjustment," Maddux said.