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ND ROCK, Texas -- Just about everything that could have gone wrong in the first inning of Rangers right-hander Neftali Feliz's second rehab start did. Feliz was supposed to throw three innings for Triple-A Round Rock against Omaha on Friday, but he lasted only 1 2/3 innings, throwing 34 of his 47 pitches during a four-run first that saw Feliz give up three hits, walk a batter, throw a wild pitch, and balk.
After issuing a four-pitch walk to begin the second inning, Feliz settled down, retiring the final two batters he faced, striking out former Royals Major Leaguer Johnny Giavotella before he was pulled.
Feliz has been saddled with a loss in each of his two rehab starts this year, the first with Double-A Frisco, and then 10-4 here."Overall, I feel like I had a good game," Feliz said. "I know there were a few balls that they got the bat on, but I'm not upset. Overall, I feel like I had a good game."Feliz, who went 3-1 with a 3.16 ERA before being placed on the disabled list with right elbow inflammation May 21, will start again Wednesday against Albuquerque. The plan is for Feliz to throw four innings and 65 pitches. His fourth rehab start would be July 30, but he doesn't think it will be long before he's back in the big leagues."I think one more outing and I'll be there," Feliz said. "I'll probably make another start here. But I'm not sure. They'll probably let me know tomorrow what they need me to do.""He can't just go out there and throw like he did today," said Express pitching coach Terry Clark. "That's not big league pitching. For him, his fastball is everything. The other stuff just comes off the fastball. If he can't throw his fastball for strikes, he's not ready."Feliz, who loaded the bases before recording an out, surrendered a pair of RBI groundouts and a pair of infield singles that put Round Rock in a 4-0 hole. All four batters that fell behind in the count 0-2 against Feliz in the first inning reached base -- on an eight-pitch walk, an error, an infield single and a bloop single to shallow left field."I got all my pitches in where I wanted to, I got ahead in the count, I feel good about the outing," Feliz said. "It's not so much that I was focused on the result, I just wanted to feel strong and feel good, keep the ball where I needed to keep it. I feel strong. I feel good."Feliz encountered some early trouble in his first rehab start in Frisco earlier this week, walking a pair of batters in the first inning before an error allowed an unearned run to score. But he prevented any further damage by striking out the next batter to end the inning. He wasn't able to do that Friday.After Irving Falu's leadoff single, Feliz lost control of the baseball while rearing back to throw during the following at-bat. The ball trickled a few feet to Feliz's left and Falu advanced to second base on the balk. "I tried to pull the trigger too fast and the ball got hung up on my leg," Feliz said. Wil Myers reached on a ground ball that was bobbled by second baseman Luis Hernandez. Initially ruled a single, it was later ruled an error, making three of the four runs Feliz surrendered unearned. He gave up three hits, walked two, struck out one, tossed two wild pitches and threw 47 pitches, 31 for strikes."We just didn't make any plays in the first inning, which cost him about 25 pitches," Clark said. "Did he use his fastball enough? Probably not. But he did throw all of his breaking stuff for strikes. Curveball was OK, slider was good, changeup was pretty good. It could have easily been three innings and no earned runs."Feliz, who topped out at 95 mph Friday, threw four straight balls to Adam Moore to begin the second inning and a wild pitch four pitches later. But a soft liner to second and a three-pitch strikeout gave Feliz two quick outs. Before he got a chance to finish the second inning, he was replaced on the mound by Johan Yan.