Rangers' Feliz comes out of the bullpen blazing

Leave a comment

feliz-neftali-100329.jpgThe 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.

Are you on Twitter? You can follow Bob here, and get all your HBT updates here.

Jorge Soler diagnosed with strained oblique, Opening Day in doubt

Rob Tringali/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Royals outfielder Jorge Soler has been diagnosed with a strained oblique, making it likely that he begins the regular season on the disabled list, Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star reports.

The Royals acquired Soler from the Cubs in December in exchange for reliever Wade Davis. Over parts of three seasons with the Cubs, Soler hit .258/.328/.434 with 27 home runs and 98 RBI in 765 plate appearances.

When he’s healthy, Soler is expected to find himself in the Royals’ lineup as a right fielder and occasionally as a designated hitter.

Report: Cardinals, Yadier Molina making “major progress” on contract extension

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Cardinals and catcher Yadier Molina are making “major progress” on a contract extension. Molina told the team he won’t discuss an extension during the season, hence the rapid progress.

Molina is entering the last guaranteed year of a five-year, $75 million contract signed in March 2012. He and the Cardinals hold a mutual option worth $15 million with a $2 million buyout for the 2018 season. The new extension would presumably cover at least the 2018-19 seasons and likely ’20 as well.

Molina is 34 years old but is still among the most productive catchers in baseball. Last season, he hit .307/.360/.427 with 38 doubles, 58 RBI, and 56 runs scored in 581 plate appearances. Though he has lost a step or two with age, Molina is still well-regarded for his defense. The Cardinals also value his ability to handle the pitching staff.