Professor Jason Parks watched Neftali Feliz pitch yesterday afternoon and he put it best
: “First of all, [Thursday] was his first spring training appearance, so unless he gets injured, or strikes out-the-side while throwing 105 mph, it’s best to chew on the performance for a few minutes and then move on. Today wasn’t a good day for Feliz, but it wasn’t a nightmare either.”
There were inconsistencies in command and velocity and tempo and the quality of his secondary pitches, and he apparently wasn’t comfortable mechanically from the windup, but it was a two-inning effort that probably didn’t do enough to bolster either camp as far as what his role should be in a month (one team source told a local columnist that righty’s somewhat erratic effort should usefully cool the hype a bit), and the process will continue with another game assignment next week.
Derek Holland’s two-inning effort across town in Mesa was evidently a mixed bag as well. The bigger pitching news to come out of that game was Tanner Scheppers’s lower back stiffness, which presumably explains the drop in his velocity in what was an extremely ineffective outing (groundout, walk, infield single, infield single, double, sac fly, single, single, walk: four runs while recording only two outs). Scheppers was a longshot to make the Opening Day staff, so this development shouldn’t impact any roster plans, but it would be a setback for the righthander if it lingers, and is worth keeping tabs on, particularly since his projection as a power piece for the bullpen at some point this year factors into the idea that the relief corps would ultimately survive any transition of Feliz or Alexi Ogando to the rotation.
On the subject of the back of the bullpen, enthusiasm for Mark Lowe’s inning at the end of the Feliz game (three outs, two on strikes) ought to be tempered to a point, given that the Indians side he retired was comprised of minor leaguers Juan Apodaca and Nick Weglarz and utility man Luis Valbuena. But the nine Lowe strikes in 12 pitches was encouraging, as was Eric Hurley’s solid work in the third and fourth innings, as he needed only 21 pitches to dispose of Michael Brantley, Asdrubal Cabrera, Carlos Santana, Travis Buck, Austin Kearns, and Jason Donald, most of whom figure to be in Cleveland’s starting lineup on any given day.
Big days, too, from Ian Kinsler and Chris Davis, Mitch Moreland and Michael Young, David Paisano and Mike Olt, but focusing too much on a big game at the plate is something we’ll save at least for April.
But Davis . . . man, it’s really good to see him regularly coming up big in both phases. Would love to see him keep playing with confidence and in rhythm.
Again, though, take these early March box scores with a scrap of a crumb of a grain of salt, which is to say virtual indifference, unless you’re willing to bet that Cliff Lee’s first spring work with the Phillies (a hit-by-pitch and RBI triple to start the game, followed an out later by a run-scoring sac fly, and a leadoff walk in his second inning of work, with a wild pitch mixed in) is a dark cloud forming.
Yorvit Torrealba is expected to play today after his own bout of back stiffness held him out of action for a few days. Adrian Beltre is reportedly making progress with his calf strain, but the club is pushing back its initial timetable that he’d return in 10 to 14 days (sometime next week). No specifics, but team officials remain confident that he’ll be ready for Opening Day.
The Lee trade in July arguably gave righthanders Josh Lueke and Blake Beavan a better opportunity than they would have had in Texas, but Seattle’s trade on Wednesday of the other minor league piece in that trade, infielder Matt Lawson, essentially put another big league pitcher in their way. The Mariners shipped Lawson to Cleveland for lefthander Aaron Laffey, reuniting the 25-year-old with former Indians manager Eric Wedge, who plans to look at him in relief. Neither Lueke nor Beavan was expected to make the Opening Day roster, but a 2011 debut for each is a good bet.
A few more things, quickly:
Chuck Morgan posted a message on the Newberg Report forum about the new main video board at Rangers Ballpark, which is now in place. Check it out here
If you were lucky enough to have missed my mystery caller segment on the Ticket yesterday, in celebration of Dan McDowell’s birthday, you can double down and lose everything by listening here: Part 1
and Part 2
. You’ll get the rare opportunity to hear my voice get modulated into that of a mouse, and to cringe at ill-advised Steve Olin and Bill Robinzine references.
(It was actually a lot of fun, and managed to avoid candidacy in this morning’s Emergency Break of the Week segment. But man, what a letdown for Dan once he realized it was me . . . . )
If you missed MLB Network’s excellent “30 Clubs in 30 Days” feature on the Rangers last night, you can catch a reairing of the hour-long show this morning at 10 a.m. or again at noon, or at 1 a.m. tonight.