Let’s face it, the 21-year-old Neftali Feliz that blew us – and baseball – away in 2009 is merely a memory.
I was in the park the night he threw three consecutive 100 mph+ fastballs past the Toronto Blue Jays. But that phenom – and that unique, lively arm – are unlikely to ever appear in Arlington again.
Of Feliz’s 17 fastballs in Sunday’s blown save in Cleveland, only 12 topped 90 mph. You know what they say about a pitcher losing his fastball. One of his 89-mph fastballs was blasted for a game-tying, two-run homer by David Murphy.
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Feliz may be recovered from Tommy John surgery, but he’s now forced to be a pitcher more than just a thrower. He’s hit 92-93 mph on some pitches since taking over the closer’s role in the wake of the Joakim Soria trade, but it’s difficult to fathom him regaining the velocity back up to around 100 mph-level that made him so spectacular and promising.
In a season of bad news, Feliz’s shrinking speed is yet another negative nugget.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.