Neftali Feliz was recovered enough from Tommy John elbow surgery to make six appearances for the Rangers in September of last season, throwing 4.2 scoreless innings, but after watching him pitch this spring the team has decided to send the 25-year-old former Rookie of the Year back to the minors.
Feliz gave up 13 hits in 10 innings, but also had a decent 6/2 K/BB ratio and reports on his velocity were relatively positive while still being a few miles per hour off his pre-surgery peak. He lost the closer competition to Joakim Soria–although perhaps it was never really much of a competition–and will now have to work his way back to the majors following some time at Triple-A.
General manager Jon Daniels indicated that the Rangers don’t expect Feliz to spend a lot of time in the minors, telling Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star Telegram that they want him to continue building arm strength. He’ll be used as a reliever, though, so it’s a performance issue more than a pitch count issue.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.