The Texas Rangers have decided to keep Neftali Feliz in their bullpen for now instead of putting him in the rotation or priming him in the minors for such a starting role.
It seems Feliz is taking to his relief role just fine, as he hit 100 mph on the radar gun three times and 101 on three other occasions while striking out the side against the Colorado Rockies on Monday.
As Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports, Feliz seems pretty darned motivated by a fear of being sent to the minors. Anything to avoid those bus trips!
After a ragged first relief outing of the spring, Neftali Feliz was summoned to manager Ron Washington’s office for a little get together. Feliz’s reaction: He thought he was about to be shipped out to Oklahoma City.
“I saw a couple of guys go in and when they came out, they were packing stuff for the minors,” Feliz said through translator Julio Borbon after blowing away Colorado in the ninth inning Monday. “I wasn’t upset, but I was already thinking about what I needed to do to get back here.”
Turns out that since the Rangers were moving him back to the bullpen, they simply wanted him to start pitching like a reliever, too. In other words, go after people with the fastball until they make him do something else.
The Rangers are planning to use Feliz as their primary setup man from the right side this season, so they’re going to test Feliz and see if he can pitch on back-to-back days, something they didn’t ask of him in his 20-game major league debut last season.
Feliz says he isn’t worried about that, and I suspect he’ll be fine. But you have to wonder if the 21-year-old (22 on May 2) would be better served honing his secondary pitches in Oklahoma City with an eye toward the future. After all, in the show, everyone can hit heat.
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When he’s not throwing baseballs, Twins pitcher Trevor May is an active gamer. He streams on Twitch, a very popular video game streaming site, fairly regularly and now he’s officially on an eSports team. Luminosity Gaming announced the organization added May last Friday. It appears he’ll be streaming and commentating on Overwatch, a multiplayer first-person shooter made by Blizzard Entertainment.
May is the only current athlete to be an active member of an eSports team. Former NBA player Rick Fox owns Echo Fox, an eSports team that sports players in games including League of Legends, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, Street Fighter V, Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and Mortal Kombat X. Jazz forward Gordon Hayward is also a known advocate of eSports.
The NBA in particular has been very active on the eSports front. Kings co-owners Andy Miller and Mark Mastrov launched NRG eSports in November 2015. Shortly thereafter, Grizzlies co-owner Stephen Kaplan invested in the Immortals eSports team. Almost a year later, the 76ers acquired controlling stakes in Team Dignitas and Team Apex. The same month, the Wizards’ and Warriors’ owners launched a group called Axiomatic, which purchased a controlling stake in Team Liquid, a long-time Starcraft: Brood War website which has since branched out into other games. And also in September 2016, Celtics forward Jonas Jerebko bought team Renegades, moving them to a group house in Detroit. In December 2016, the Bucks submitted a deal to Riot Games in order to purchase Cloud9’s Challenger league spot for $2.5 million. The Rockets that month hired someone specifically for eSports development, focusing on strategy and investment. Last month, the Heat acquired a controlling stake in team Misfits.
Once an afterthought, eSports has grown considerably in recent years and now it should be considered a competitor to traditional sports. League of Legends, in particular, is quite popular, reaching nearly 15 million concurrent viewers at its peak in the most recent League of Legends World Championship. That championship featured a prize purse of $6.7 million with $2 million of it being split among winner SK Telecom T1’s members.
The Orioles have re-signed outfielder Michael Bourn to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league camp, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.
Bourn, 34, joined the Orioles last year in a trade from the Diamondbacks on August 31. Though he compiled a meager .669 OPS with the Diamondbacks, Bourn hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with the O’s through the end of the season.
Bourn, a non-roster invitee to camp, will try to play his way onto the Orioles’ 25-man roster. If he does make the roster, Bourn will receive a $2 million salary, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports points out.