It was supposed to be the third of four scheduled minor league rehab starts for Neftali Feliz, signaling yet another successful step back towards a return to the majors and the hopeful arrival of an impact arm to the pitching staff ... but it's not going to happen, as Feliz has been scratched from tonight's rehab start for Triple-A Round Rock due to an ever ominous-sounding recurrence of "elbow discomfort."
There's a chance that this is just a minor blip on the radar, perhaps something along the lines of a 5-7 day setback, and that his rehab schedule hasn't been shot to hell by this news, and I don't want to speculate too hard on what's going on with Feliz's arm until we have more information on the nature of this setback and what's going to happen next for him -- but, at the moment, this sounds like terrible news for both Feliz and the Rangers, as the fears over Feliz possibly having a major, long-term, surgery-necessitating elbow problem intensify, and as the Rangers brace themselves for the possibility of not getting Feliz back during the 2012 calendar year.
Feliz's role upon returning to the team had not yet been solidified, as the plan was for one of Alexi Ogando -- whom the Rangers had been stretching out -- to move to the back of the starting rotation and for the other to move into (or remain in) a late-inning role; now, though, the Rangers may not have any choice in that particular matter matter, and the likeliest outcome may be something like Ogando transitioning to the back of the starting rotation while the Rangers pick up a reliever or two on the trade market to absorb the possible rest-of-season loss of Feliz. Either that, or their pursuit of a starting pitcher on the trade market could end up yielding something.
But the bad news just keeps flowing, and, at some point, you just become totally beaten down by it. You wonder when it's finally going to end.