ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 23: Neftali Feliz #30 of the Texas Rangers pitches in the ninth inning during Game Four of the MLB World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on October 23, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Richard Durrett has a post up where he has some quotes from Ron Washington about Neftali Feliz and his transition from reliever to starter, and what Washington said he's going to be looking at with Feliz caught my eye:
Rangers manager Ron Washington was asked on Monday what adjustments Neftali Feliz needs to make to transition from a reliever to a starter and the skipper didn't hesitate with his answer.
"I'll be looking for his work ethic," Washington said. "We know he can throw the baseball. I'm going to just pay attention to his work ethic because there's a different mentality as a starter than as a reliever."
Feliz, you may recall, was a little heavier last year than in 2010, and there have been suggestions that his lukewarm response to starting last spring derived at least in part from the fact that there's more work involved in being a starting pitcher than there is in being a reliever. The fact that Washington "didn't hesitate" before identifying Feliz's work ethic as an adjustment Feliz will need to make in making the transition gives some credence to those concerns.
One of the things that I've wondered about, as far as the Rangers announcing early in the offseason that Feliz was definitely going to the rotation, was whether that move was motivated, at least in part, by a desire to put Feliz on notice in terms of what would be expected from him. Last year, it was clear he was going to work in the spring as a starter but would likely end up back in the bullpen, and I wonder if that didn't result in Feliz not coming to camp fully prepared to earn a rotation spot.
I wouldn't be surprised if the addition of Joe Nathan as closer, and the announcement that Feliz was going to be a starter, was to make clear to Feliz that there was no going back, that he couldn't coast through the spring and just go back to the bullpen if the team wasn't satisfied with his level of preparation for starting come spring training.