Feliz throwing gas, missing bats in Rangers' pen

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Neftali Feliz followed up his impressive big-league debut by showing that he was human in appearance No. 2, but got back to being untouchable last night. He struck out five of the six batters he faced in two perfect innings, and now has the following video game-like numbers through four career outings:

 IP      ERA     SO     BB      AVG      OBP      SLG
6.2     1.35     13      0     .045     .045     .182

Not bad, huh?
He’s faced a total of 22 batters, striking out 13 of them while walking zero and allowing just one hit for an opponents’ batting line of .045/.045/.182. Feliz’s slider and changeup have both been extremely effective so far, but obviously his overpowering fastball has gotten most of the attention. He’s thrown his fastball nearly 80 percent of the time so far, averaging an amazing 98.8 miles per hour with the seemingly effortless pitch. Here are the top fastball velocities from pitchers who’ve logged at least five innings:

Joel Zumaya           99.3
NEFTALI FELIZ         98.8
Jonathan Broxton      97.8
Daniel Bard           96.9
Brian Wilson          96.4
Matt Lindstrom        96.3

Joel Zumaya is the only guy to throw harder than Feliz, but he’s on the disabled list again because his arm basically keeps blowing up. Of the 35 pitchers to average at least 95 mph with their fastball this season only four have done so as starters, which is interesting because Feliz was a full-time starter in the minors and still figures to join the Rangers’ rotation eventually. Ubaldo Jimenez is this year’s hardest-throwing starter at 95.9, followed by Justin Verlander and Felipe Paulino at 95.4 and Josh Johnson at 95.1.
So yeah, Neftali Feliz throws kind of hard.

Billy Butler on altercation with Danny Valencia: “We had equal faults in this.”

OAKLAND, CA - JULY 24: Billy Butler #16 of the Oakland Athletics celebrates a solo homerun in the bottom of the eighth inning to regain the lead against the Tampa Bay Rays at the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum on July 24, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Don Feria/Getty Images)
Don Feria/Getty Images
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On Friday, Athletics teammates Billy Butler and Danny Valencia were involved in a clubhouse altercation that started when Butler told an equipment representative that Valencia was wearing off-brand spikes during games. Valencia didn’t like Butler’s interference, potentially costing him an endorsement deal, so he punched Butler in the temple, causing a concussion.

Neither player had said much to the media about the incident, but Butler finally addressed the issue on Wednesday. MLB.com’s Mark Chiarelli reported Butler’s comments:

“This was something that could’ve been prevented on both sides,” Butler said. “We had equal faults in this. I definitely said some things that you shouldn’t have. I definitely stepped in an area where it wasn’t my business.”

[…]

“By no means do I think his intentions were to give me a concussion,” Butler said. “This is me addressing my faults and what I took away from the team.”

[…]

“To say that we’re enemies is not right,” Butler said. “To blame this all on one side is not right either.”

Butler also apologized to his teammates. “I would like to apologize for putting [my teammates] through this because they didn’t deserve this. This was an issue between me and Danny. To be fair for them, they didn’t deserve this. The coaching staff didn’t deserve this. The organization didn’t deserve this,” he said.

Butler is making progress in his recovery from his concussion. He’ll travel with the team to St. Louis to open up a three-game series against the Cardinals starting on Friday. If he passes his concussion protocol test, the Athletics will put him back on the active roster from the seven-day concussion disabled list.

Report: Pablo Sandoval has lost 22 pounds during his rehab

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 11:  Pablo Sandoval #48 of the Boston Red Sox looks on from the dugout before the Red Sox home opener against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park on April 11, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Orioles defeat the Red Sox 9-7.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
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WEEI’s Rob Bradford reports that Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval has lost 22 pounds during his rehabilitation after undergoing shoulder surgery in early May. Weight has been the top subject of conversation regarding Sandoval ever since he showed up to spring training and an unflattering photograph was published by the Boston Globe.

Sandoval had a miserable spring training, batting .204 in 49 at-bats and lost out on the starting third base job to Travis Shaw. He went hitless in seven regular season plate appearances before landing on the disabled list with a sprained left shoulder, which ultimately required reconstructive surgery.

Sandoval is still under contract through at least 2019, earning $17 million next season, and $18 million in ’18 and ’19. His controlling club has a $17 million option with a $5 million buyout for 2020 as well. It’s hard to see Sandoval fitting into his current club’s future plans, but it will be tough for the Red Sox to get rid of him without eating a significant portion of his remaining contract.