ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 24: Neftali Feliz #30 of the Texas Rangers pitches in the ninth inning during Game Five of the MLB World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on October 24, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. The Rangers won 4-2. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
We here at Red Fever get it, the hype surrounding the Texas Rangers this spring is without a doubt resting square on the broad shoulders of Yu Darvish.
But for real Rangers fans, the bigger hype, or interest, rather should be surrounding Neftali Feliz as a starting pitcher. Last season, Feliz was stretched out to be a starter in the spring before eventually being moved back to close before the season began. The Rangers made it clear from the get-go this season that Feliz will start as they signed veteran closer Joe Nathan.
Feliz struggled through his first spring start, giving up three hits and three runs against the Chicago White Sox including a big bomb to Adam Dunn while touching as high as 94 mph on the radar with his fastball. He makes another start today against the Colorado Rockies and will be expected to go three innings with what are hopefully some better results.
The key for Feliz this spring will be to work on his secondary pitches, which has always been the knock on the 23-year-old pitcher.
No matter what happens, Rangers manager Ron Washington said he and his staff believe in Feliz.
"He might struggle a little bit, but then again he might not struggle," Washington told ESPN Dallas. "We don’t know, but we’re going to take the chance and as long as he’s healthy, he’s going to get the ball."