Rangers haven't ruled out Neftali Feliz starting

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Neftali Feliz has pitched exclusively out of the bullpen since debuting last August and replaced Frank Francisco as the Rangers’ closer earlier this week, but general manager Jon Daniels wrote today in an online chat that the 22-year-old phenom may still end up in the rotation long term:

Going to depend on the makeup of the roster and how Neftali’s developing. Plenty of guys have relieved (or even closed) and then moved back to the rotation (Lowe, Dempster, Smoltz, Wainright, etc.). He’s not even 22 yet and has less than three months in the big leagues. We want him to get some experience under his belt–we have not abandoned the idea of him starting in the future, but that’s not our immediate focus.

Feliz was an elite prospect as a starter in the minors and I’m always of the opinion that young pitchers should be given an extended opportunity to show whether they can thrive for 200 innings per season before being moved to a role that limits them to 70 innings per season.
Getting his feet wet as a reliever isn’t a bad idea, especially given Francisco’s struggles and the bullpen’s overall lack of depth, but hopefully Daniels and the Rangers still have plans for Feliz as a starter.

Must-Click Link: Remembering Eddie Grant the first major leaguer to die in combat

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As you get ready for Memorial Day weekend and whatever it entails for you and yours, take some time to read an excellent article from Mike Bates over at The Hardball Times.

The article is about Eddie Grant. You probably never heard of him. He was a journeyman infielder — often a backup — from 1905 through 1915. If you have heard of him, it was likely not for his baseball exploits, however: it was because he was the first active baseball player to die in combat, killed in the Battle of the Argonne Forest in October 1915.

Michael tells us about more than Grant’s death, however. He provides a great overview of his life and career. And notes that Grant didn’t even have to go to war if he didn’t want to. He was 34, had the chance to coach or manage and had a law degree and the potential to make a lot of money following his baseball career. He volunteered, however, for both patriotic and personal reasons. And it cost him his life.

Must-read stuff indeed. Especially this weekend.

The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

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The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.

Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.

Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.