(author's note: For those who may not know me, I'm a Mavericks writer over at Mavs Moneyball (the best Maverick site around, in my totally biased viewpoint). I'm also an aspiring journalist and avid Ranger fan who lives in Round Rock, so I thought I'd take advantage of my media status and attend a few Express games this summer as a member of the press. I was able to see Martin Perez last month and just yesterday saw and talked to Mitch Moreland. Tonight, it was Neftali Feliz making a rehab start.)
Back on May 18th, Neftali Feliz was making his seventh start ever in the majors against the Houston Astros, while Martin Perez was a highly regarded but struggling pitcher in the rotation for the Rangers' triple-A affiliate Round Rock Express. It's funny how much can change in two months, where it was Perez who was up in Arlington battling against the Red Sox on Tuesday, and Feliz down in Round Rock on rehab.
For what it's worth, Neftali was pretty dang good. Scheduled to just go three innings, he did so with 54 pitches. He allowed three on a walk, hit, and HBP, but also struck out three with six swinging strikes. It was certainly an improvement over his previous rehab outing that lasted only one and two thirds innings, giving up four runs.
"I felt good," Feliz said, "I was more aggressive in the strike zone." When asked about his fastball control, he replied, "I was able to get it over the corners, work both corners." While saddened by the Colby Lewis injury news, he is not going to rush back to the majors and does not know when he will return. "I don't know, it's up to them [the coaching staff], I felt good," he repeated.
Justin Grimm, whose turn in the rotation had been taken by the rehabbing Feliz, took over out of the pen. He looked shaky in the fourth inning, throwing just six strikes in fifteen pitches, but settled down in the innings that followed. His final line was 5.2 IP, two hits, three walks, and a run off a solo home run. He struck out just one, mostly thanks to his poor command, but had good stuff throughout.
On the non-pitching sides of things, all eyes were once again focused on Mitch Moreland. He finished 0/3, with a swinging strikeout and two popouts to left field. With that said, it's hard to judge the man too harshly when considering he's expecting the birth of his first child tomorrow morning at seven a.m.
"I'm still trying to get my timing down," Moreland admits, which is understandable for a player who hasn't seen live pitching in about a month. As for when his timing will come back, it's hard to tell. "I'll just have to get out there and play," he explained. Right now, his focus was on the four hour drive back to Dallas to meet his wife, although "the driving will seem more like flying."
The Express will be leaving on a roadtrip this coming weekend, so Moreland will likely play with the Rough Riders if Ron Washington and the Rangers coaching staff feels he needs another rehab start.