MLB.com's Christina Corona has a report on Neftali Feliz's latest rehab start (1.2 IP, 4 R, 1 ER, 3 H, 2 BB, 1 K, 2 WP, 1 BK) that features some interesting quotes from Feliz and Round Rock pitching coach Terry Clark:
"Overall, I feel like I had a good game," Feliz said. "I know there were a few balls that they got the bat on, but I'm not upset. Overall, I feel like I had a good game."
Feliz, who went 3-1 with a 3.16 ERA before being placed on the disabled list with right elbow inflammation May 21, will start again Wednesday against Albuquerque. The plan is for Feliz to throw four innings and 65 pitches. His fourth rehab start would be July 30, but he doesn't think it will be long before he's back in the big leagues.
"I think one more outing and I'll be there," Feliz said. "I'll probably make another start here. But I'm not sure. They'll probably let me know tomorrow what they need me to do."
"He can't just go out there and throw like he did today," said Express pitching coach Terry Clark. "That's not big league pitching. For him, his fastball is everything. The other stuff just comes off the fastball. If he can't throw his fastball for strikes, he's not ready."
I didn't actually see Feliz pitch, and, obviously, it's hard to render an objective or informed opinion on something that you didn't actually see with your own eyes, so I won't delve too deep into that aspect of this matter. Scott Lucas did watch Feliz's effort in person, however, and at first tweeted that Feliz was just "awful," before later amending that statement to say that he actually did throw some great pitches that he didn't really catch until he watched the videos he had recorded ... Scott's two high-definition videos of Feliz can be viewed here, incidentally.
[Edit: Scott's minor league report of the day just dropped, and here are his comments on Feliz: "Scheduled to pitch three innings, Neftali Feliz was pulled after 1.2 and 47 pitches. He retired five of eleven batters (partly the defense's fault), allowed three hits and two walks, unleashed two wild pitches (one aired LaLoosh-style to the screen) and committed a balk. I simply tweeted "he was awful" when he departed, but I need to modify that statement. He really was awful while I simply sat and watched; for example, drifting an uncurving curve across the center of the plate and walking a batter on four pitches that included three neck-high fastballs. That said, I was shooting video during part of his outing, and on further review, he threw more good pitches than I realized. But, on the whole, his fastball control and command were sorely lacking. He topped out at 95."]
Anyway, this strikes me as an interesting contrast between Feliz (who, on the surface at least, has made it known that he believes he pitched well and that he's very close to returning to the majors) and Clark, who stops just short of saying that Feliz sucked, and who clearly doesn't believe that he's ready to return to the majors. You don't typically see such a stark difference in opinion between a player and coach on the exact same performance, and while I think it's very important for Feliz to be confident in his craft and his abilities, there's a fine line between confidence and delusion. In that respect, this article -- and its accompanying quotes -- cast Feliz in a strange sort of light, and almost make it seem like he just doesn't get it ... that he doesn't really comprehend the magnitude of the problems that sabotaged this particular rehab start.
I hope that's not actually the case, and, frankly, I doubt that's actually the case, because Feliz, for all of his talent, wouldn't have been a successful big league pitcher over these last few years if he lacked the capacity to process his failures and make the necessary adjustments to improve his game ... but, yeah, that's a strange, and vaguely disconcerting, little collection of quotes.