Bad timing: Tommy Hunter suffers strained right groin

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Mere hours after announcing that young flame-thrower Neftali Feliz will remain in his familiar ninth inning role to open the 2011 season, the Rangers got a dose of unfortunate news concerning one of the members of their starting rotation.

According to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, right-hander Tommy Hunter was lifted from his Cactus League outing Thursday against the Reds due to a strained muscle in the right side of his groin.

Hunter told reporters after the game that he is still aiming to be available for the start of the regular season, but that seems way doubtful given the normal recovery time for a groin strain. It’s almost certain, in fact, that he’s going to be placed on the disabled list before Opening Day.

The Rangers probably won’t want to use Feliz as a spot starter in the early going even though he’s stretched out and wholly capable, so they’ll likely look to a guy like Scott Feldman or maybe even Dave Bush to do the filling in while Hunter recovers. It should only be three or four weeks.

Hunter, 24, finished with a healthy 13-4 record and 3.73 ERA over 128 innings last season for Texas.

Wade Miley will start NLCS Game 5 for Brewers

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The Brewers haven’t yet decided what route to go for Game 4 of the NLCS, but Wade Miley will start Game 5, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. Miley will be on three days’ rest after starting Game 2 on Saturday.

Miley, 31, has yet to give up a run this postseason. He made his postseason debut in Game 3 of the NLDS against the Rockies, hurling 4 2/3 scoreless innings. He then went 5 2/3 scoreless innings against the Dodgers.

Jhoulys Chacín is starting tonight’s Game 3. It seems likely the Brewers will go with an “opener” in Game 4. Who that will be likely depends on which pitchers are used tonight.