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Texas Rangers recall ex-closer Neftali Feliz from minors to add fresh arm to taxed bullpen

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NEW YORK, N.Y. - Former closer Neftali Feliz was recalled by the slumping Texas Rangers from Triple-A Round Rock, replenishing their taxed bullpen Friday for the opener of an interleague series against the New York Mets.

Texas also optioned right-hander Ben Rowen to Round Rock and placed lefty Joe Saunders on waivers for the purpose of giving him his unconditional release.

Feliz, an All-Star in 2010 and the AL Rookie of the Year, was the closer on two Rangers teams that went to the World Series. He was one strike from clinching the title for Texas in 2011 before St. Louis rallied in Game 6.

The Rangers moved Feliz into the starting rotation two years ago, but he had Tommy John surgery on Aug. 1, 2012. Back in the bullpen, he struggled during spring training this year and was sent to the minors.

Texas manager Ron Washington said Feliz will be used in whatever role is necessary, but Joakim Soria "unequivocally" remains the closer.

"We needed a fresh arm, and Neffy is capable of giving us multiple innings right now," Washington said.

Feliz had been at Round Rock all season, going 1-1 with a 3.14 ERA in 24 relief appearances. He was 7 for 9 in save chances, with 31 strikeouts and eight walks in 28 2-3 innings.

The right-hander picked it up lately, throwing nine scoreless innings with nine strikeouts and one walk over his last eight outings. Opponents batted .071 against him (2 for 28) during that span.

Washington said he had a chat with the 26-year-old Feliz to pump him up Friday. The manager acknowledged that minor league reports have indicated Feliz was inconsistent at Triple-A.

"He was the best option we had," Washington said. "At least he can give us multiple innings, and it'll give Neffy a chance to stay in the big leagues."

Rowen had a 4.15 ERA in eight relief outings after he was called up June 11 for his first stint in the big leagues.

Saunders was designated for assignment Tuesday after going 0-5 with a 6.13 ERA in eight starts for Texas this season.

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