SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Neftali Feliz, who was the Rangers closer in 2010-11 when they went to two World Series, was optioned to Triple-A Round Rock on Tuesday.
Feliz, who was moved into the rotation in 2012, underwent Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery on Aug. 1, 2012, and has yet to return to the level he was during the World Series years. He had a 4.50 ERA in nine games and opponents were hitting .310 off him. His velocity was 91-93 miles per hour after averaging 96 in 2010-11.
"We optioned Neftali with the goal of working with him to get back to where we all know he can be," general manager Jon Daniels said. "He's healthy and his work ethic has been solid, but he needs some work and the best place to get him that is in Round Rock right now. I expect he'll be back as soon as he's ready to help us."
After a 13-month recovery, Feliz was activated off the disabled list at the beginning of September and pitched in six games without allowing a run. He came to camp with the goal of regaining his job as the Rangers closer but did not even make the team.
Joakim Soria is now the Rangers closer with right-handers Alexi Ogando and Jason Frasor, and left-hander Neal Cotts also in the bullpen. Feliz's demotion could open up a spot for right-hander Shawn Tolleson, who has a 2.25 ERA in four games and allowed just one hit in four innings. Michael Kirkman could also make the team as a left-handed reliever.
The Rangers also sent left-handed pitchers Rafael Perez and Aaron Poreda back to Minor League camp Tuesday. That leaves Kirkman, Ryan Feierabend and Pedro Figueroa as the remaining left-handers still in big league camp who could get a job if Robbie Ross ends up in the rotation. Kirkman is out of options and has to either make the team or clear outright waivers.
The Rangers have also added right-hander Daniel McCutchen to big league camp to give them a middle-relief candidate.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger.