Alex Rodriguez Among 13 First-Timers on Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot

Alex Rodriguez is getting his first chance…

The 46-year-old Dominican American former professional baseball shortstop and third baseman, businessman and philanthropist is among 13 first-time candidates on the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame ballot of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Alex RodriguezA-Rod, as he’s nicknamed, is joined by fellow first-timers David Ortiz, Ryan Howard, Tim Lincecum, Justin Morneau, Jimmy Rollins, Jake Peavy, Carl Crawford, Prince Fielder, Joe Nathan, Jonathan Papelbon, A.J. Pierzynski and Mark Teixeira, the Hall and BBWAA said.

A-Rod and the first-timers join 17 holdovers.

Steroids-tainted stars Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens make their 10th and final appearance on the BBWAA ballot along with Curt Schilling, who fell 16 votes shy of the necessary 75% in last year’s balloting. Schilling appeared on 71.1% of ballots, Bonds 61.8% and Clemens 61.6%.

Holdovers include Bobby Abreu, Mark Buehrle, Todd Helton, Tim Hudson, Torii Hunter, Andruw Jones, Jeff Kent, Andy Pettitte, Manny Ramirez, Gary Sheffield, Sammy Sosa, Omar Vizquel and Billy Wagner.

Sosa also will be on the ballot for the final time after receiving 17% last year.

BBWAA members with 10 or more consecutive years of membership are eligible to vote. Ballots must be postmarked by December 31 and results will be announced Jan. 25.

Any players elected will be inducted into the Hall at Cooperstown on July 24 along with anyone elected by the Golden Days Era and Early Baseball Era committees, which are scheduled to meet on December 5.

No one was elected by the BBWAA in last year’s vote, and Schilling asked after the vote that the Hall remove him from the ballot.

“It’s all right, the game doesn’t owe me anything,” he said during a live video stream on his Twitter account.

Clemens has denied using performance-enhancing drugs and Bonds has denied knowingly using them. Bonds also has been accused of domestic violence and Clemens of maintaining a decade-long relationship with a singer who was 15 when they met.

Rodriguez was suspended for the 2014 season for violating MLB‘s drug policy and collective bargaining agreement, and Ortiz’s name was alleged to have appeared on a list of players who tested positive during 2003 survey testing.

Feliz Determined to Return as the Texas Rangers’ Closer

Neftali Feliz won’t be feliz until he’s the last man on the mound…

The 25-year-old Dominican right-handed pitcher for the Texas Rangers is determined to get his old job back, as the team’s closer.

Neftali Feliz

And he’s not thinking about anything but getting the ball with the final three outs on the line.

“I know I’m preparing for one job,” Feliz told ESPN on Monday through an interpreter. “I’m preparing to be the closer and that’s it.”

Feliz’s last time closing a game in Major League Baseball was Game 6 of the 2011 World Series. And that didn’t end on a positive note for the MLB All-Star.

The Rangers moved Feliz into the rotation shortly after the season, but it wasn’t because of one big blown save. The Rangers acquired Joe Nathan early that offseason and wanted to see if Feliz could start. But injuries dashed his hopes. He eventually needed Tommy John surgery.

He says he feels healthy as he enters spring training. And Nathan is now in Detroit, leaving the closer job wide open.

It was Feliz’s responsibility in 2010 and 2011, when he saved a combined 72 games. That included 40 in 2010, earning him AL Rookie of the Year honors.

Feliz went to the Dominican Republic this offseason to play in winter ball and continue to build up his arm strength. Prior to his first bullpen session for manager Ron Washington and former reliever Darren Oliver, who is helping the Rangers’ coaching staff as a consultant this season, Feliz said his velocity reached 97 or 98 mph in the Dominican.

“I felt very comfortable,” said Feliz. “I felt strong. I’ve done this in the past, and having the experience in the Dominican League gave me more confidence to pitch.”

Feliz isn’t the only person being considered for the position. Joakim Soria, who has closing experience as an All-Star with the Kansas City Royals, is also an option. Additionally, Tanner Scheppers could lad the role, if he doesn’t end up earning a rotation spot.

But Feliz appears to be the favorite heading into spring training and is in position to win the job if he can show that he’s found his form from a few years ago.