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)
Touching 96 mph in the middle of his outing on Tuesday should be enough to curb any concern the Texas Rangers or their fans had over the apparent shoulder stiffness encountered by Neftali Feliz last week.
Feliz, who is making the move from closer to starter this spring, complained of shoulder stiffness last Tuesday in a Cactus League outing. It was beginning to creep into discussion that Feliz could miss the start of the season on the disabled list and give way to Scott Feldman for a couple of starts after Feldman's stellar spring of 20 strikeouts and two walks in 20 innings of work.
After throwing four innings in a minor-league game on Tuesday, Feliz said he was fine after throwing 68 pitches. He gave up three runs (one earned) and six hits in the four innings with three strikeouts.
Since the start was a minor-league one, if Feliz starts the season on the disabled list it can be back-dated to last Tuesday when he first encountered the soreness. Don't be surprised if Feliz doesn't make another Cactus League start this spring for that reason alone, as it would make perfect sense for the Rangers to start the season with Feliz on the DL. There's no need to rush his young arm. But Feliz says he's fine.
"I felt good," Feliz told reporters through a translator. "Everything was OK. I wasn't trying to throw hard, just trying to keep my pitches down."