My assumption has been that Neftali Feliz is on board with the Rangers giving him an opportunity to join the rotation this season, but today the reigning Rookie of the Year told Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News that he’d prefer to remain a reliever:
I’m comfortable there and I’ve done it before at this level and I know what it takes. What I went through last year made me feel more comfortable with the role. I experienced it at a very high level. But if I start, I’ll get myself into a routine and get comfortable with it again. If I start, I’m not going to hold back or not go at it all the way. I’m going to do what I do. If I end up starting, I will get into a routine and I will get more comfortable with it. It’s not that I’m not comfortable. I just haven’t done it in a while.
Feliz is basically saying he’ll do the best job he can in whatever role the Rangers ask him to fill, which is definitely the right approach to take with manager Ron Washington “very committed” to seeing what he can do as a starter. Still, this is a much different situation that career-long reliever C.J. Wilson requesting a chance to be a starter last spring and the Rangers were already facing a tough enough time convincing fans and media members that stretching out Feliz is the right move.
With that said, Grant indicates Feliz’s stated preference for remaining in the bullpen may not be especially strong and he’s obviously open to the switch after spending most of his minor-league career as a starter. If he can be a No. 1 or even No. 2 starter the Rangers are absolutely better off using Feliz in a 200-inning role than in a 70-inning role, but that isn’t something they’ll be able to determine from a handful of spring training starts and in the meantime any struggles could lead to Feliz voicing his preference more strongly.
My guess is he remains a closer.
A Solar Eclipse
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
In that great journey of the stars through space
About the mighty, all-directing Sun,
The pallid, faithful Moon, has been the one
Companion of the Earth. Her tender face,
Pale with the swift, keen purpose of that race,
Which at Time’s natal hour was first begun,
Shines ever on her lover as they run
And lights his orbit with her silvery smile.
Sometimes such passionate love doth in her rise,
Down from her beaten path she softly slips,
And with her mantle veils the Sun’s bold eyes,
Then in the gloaming finds her lover’s lips.
While far and near the men our world call wise
See only that the Sun is in eclipse.
Over the weekend the World Umpires Association — the umpire’s union — launched a protest in response to what it feels is Major League Baseball’s failure to adequately address the “escalating attacks” on the men in blue. They were specifically upset that Ian Kinsler didn’t get suspended for his remarks in which he said that Angel Hernandez should get out of the umpiring business because he’s terrible. Apparently to umpires truth is no defense. In any event, they wore white wristbands Saturday night as a sign of solidarity or whatever.
Now that’s over, it seems. At least for the time being. The Association released this statement yesterday afternoon:
“Today, WUA members agreed to the Commissioner’s proposal to meet with the Union’s Governing Board to discuss the concerns on which our white wristband protest is based. We appreciate the Commissioner’s willingness to engage seriously on verbal attacks and other important issues that must be addressed. To demonstrate our good faith, MLB Umpires will remove the protest white wristbands pending the requested meeting.”
As many noted over the weekend — most notably Emma Span of Sports Illustrated — this protest was, at best, tone deaf. While officials are, obviously, due proper respect, a player jawing at an umpire is neither unprecedented nor very serious compared to, well, almost anything that goes on in the game or in society. At a time when people are literally taking to the streets to protest white supremacy, Neo-Nazis and the KKK, asking folks to spare thoughts for some people who sometimes have to take guff over ball and strike calls is not exactly a cause that is going to draw a ton of sympathy. And that’s before you address the fact that the umpires are not innocent when it comes to stoking the animosity between themselves and the players.
I wouldn’t expect to hear too much more out of this other than, perhaps, a relatively non-committal statement from Major League Baseball and a relatively detail-free declaration of victory by the umpires after their meeting.