Neftali Feliz's missing velocity.
It sounds like the title of a Hardy Boys mystery, but it is actually the hot story in Ranger camp, at least for today.
With only four games in the books, everyone is looking for signs early in camp of issues or stories to come. On the positive side, we've heard about Michael Choice hitting the ball hard early on and looking like someone who deserves a spot on the 25 man roster.
On the downside, we have Neftali Feliz's outing today. When the morning links go up tomorrow, I'm sure that there will be multiple stories focusing on Feliz's performance today, in which he apparently topped out at 90 mph and allowed a 2 run homer.
Feliz, of course, is supposed to be back at full strength for 2014 after missing much of 2012 and 2013 recovering from Tommy John surgery. Joe Nathan, who closed for the Rangers the last two seasons, was allowed to leave as a free agent at the end of the year, and the expected return of Feliz was supposed to cushion that blow.
The Ranger bullpen should be a strength, with Feliz, Joakim Soria, Tanner Scheppers, Jason Frasor, Neal Cotts and Robbie Ross representing a formidable group. But if Feliz isn't throwing any harder than 90, he's going to be useless.
So its understandable that there's a certain amount of angst over the early returns, especially given that it is early in camp, and every game and outing is under more of a magnifying glass than usual.
But Feliz says he's working on his mechanics and his offspeed pitches, and Ron Washington professes not to be concerned. Feliz apparently was throwing in the mid- to upper-90s in winter ball, so the velocity is apparently still in there somewhere.
But it is March 2, and Opening Day is a month away, and we have to have something to talk about. This will probably be forgotten in a week or two, but for now, we can fret, or at least file it away as something to keep an eye on.