Weekend’s With Toby: Looking Ahead
The Rangers are 5-8 in their last 13 games, losing 2 series (to the Twins and Yankees) and yet they maintain a 2 ½ lead in the AL West. Toby’s thinking the best attitude to adopt is that of Alfred E. Newman: “What? Me Worry?”
Toby’s Crystal Ball – The Rehab Weekend
Out of the blue, the Rangers announce that Dirk Nowitzki will throw out the ceremonial first pitch on Friday night at the Ballpark in Arlington.
So Nowitzki will be on the mound about the same time that Tommy Hunter is pitching for – lets see – oh yes, Round Rock. Hunter is pitching for Round Rock and Brandon Webb is pitching for Frisco.
Hunter was supposed to be pitching in relief and did so on Wednesday. Hunter, who was a starter last year, pitched in relief of Darren O’Day, who was a reliever last year but was a starter on Wednesday. O’Day pitched a scoreless inning and then Hunter gave up three runs before the game was rained out.
So Hunter, who the Rangers said will be used as a reliever, is starting on Friday. For Round Rock. He will pitch 3-4 innings in what is being described as a spot start. Then presumably it will be back to relief work.
O’Day is also scheduled to pitch Friday. That was the last word from the Rangers. He will pitch in relief instead of starting.
Webb will pitch for Frisco against the Corpus Christi Hooks and is scheduled to throw 60-65 pitches.
Scott Feldman will pitch Saturday for Round Rock. Eric Hurley pitches on Sunday.
By the way, Omar Belte – who had back surgery in Spring Training – has been throwing in Arizona but was set back by a bout of strep throat.
So what does all this ever-changing tableau mean?
* O’Day is close to returning but needs to pitch in back-to-back games to prove his stamina.
* Feldman has pitched seven scoreless innings over his last two outings. He probably needs two more outings at least to show that he is recovered from knee surgery.
* Hunter will get an audition as a reliever in Triple A. No word yet as to the actual step-by-step program but the Rangers don’t see him as a viable option in the rotation right now. The rotation appears closed for the moment.
* Webb? No timetable. He is the living embodiment of one outing at a time.
* Nowitzki? The Rangers will have a radar gun on that ceremonial first pitch.
Heard of Henry Rodriguez? He is a reliever for the Washington Senators.
He has thrown 230 fastballs this year and the average velocity has been 97.9 miles per hour. So? That is the highest average velocity on a fastball for any pitcher who has thrown at least 75 fastballs this season.
Aroldis Chapman of the Reds is second at 97.8 miles per hour. Angels reliever Jordan Walden is tops in the American League at 97.7 MPH on his fastball.
Neftali Feliz? He isn’t even the fastest on his own team. Mark Lowe is at 96.4 miles ;per hour while Feliz is 95.7. Lowe ranks eighth in the Majors and Feliz is 14th.
Among starters, Michael Pineda of the Mariners is at 95.3, Justin Verlander is at 95.2 and Alexi Ogando is third at 94.7 MPH on his fastball.
Feliz was the hardest throwing Rangers pitcher in 2010 with a fastball that averaged 96.4 miles per hour and also in 2009 at 96.2. Beyond that?
2008 Frank Francisco – 94.8
2007 Robinson Tejeda – 94.0
2006 Francisco Cordero – 95.5
2005 Francisco Cordero – 95.8
2004 Francisco Cordero – 96.2
2003 Francisco Cordero – 96.0
2002 Francisco Cordero – 95.0
2001 Dan Kolb – 93.1
* Eleno Ornelas – The Rangers announcer for Spanish broadcasts remains a tireless ambassador for the organization, true confidant of the players and – according to those who write in – really really good on the radio.
* Craig Gentry – He is playing mainly against left-handers but is hitting .391 for June.
* Alexi Ogando – With all the concerns about his bout of dehydration on Sunday, nobody mentioned that he singled in two at-bats as a hitter. He is now 2-for-3 in the Major Leagues as a hitter.
Toby’s Puppies: All-Stars!
Advanced A (Myrtle Beach) : RHP Joe Weiland was the starting pitcher for the 2011 California-Carolina All-Star game – he threw one scoreless inning. Also playing: OF Ryan Strausborger, C Zach Zaneski and LHP Robbie Ross (California defeated Carolina 6-1)
Low A (Hickory): At the South Atlantic League All Star Game, the first half Northern Division Champion Crawdads were represented by RHP Roman Mendez, 3B Christian Vellanueva and C Tomas Tellis. (The North lost to the South 6-3)
MLB Futures Game: The Rangers will be represented by LHP Martin Perez (AA Frisco) and IF Jurikson Profar (Low A Hickory) at the MLB Futures Game in Phoenix on July 10th. By the way, 18 year old Profar will be the youngest player participating in the game.
Toby Growls: Put down the binoculars and stop looking at other scores on the smart phone. Toby is telling you right now: stop the scoreboard watching! It’s only June.
Yes, the Rangers made their biggest trade last season at the beginning of July – but trust us – that was an outlier. Let’s not forget that this time last month Cleveland had one of the largest division leads, and San Francisco was at the top of the NL West while Minnesota and Arizona were all but written off for the season. This morning the Indians are clinging to a 1 game lead in the AL Central while Minnesota has been on tear going 15-5 in their last 20 games, and the Diamondbacks have a ½ game lead over the Giants in the NL West. As Crash Davis told Ebby Calvin LaLoosh: “You’re gonna have to learn your clichés. You’re gonna have to study them, you’re gonna have to know them. They’re your friends. Write this down: ‘We gotta play it one day at a time.’ “ Toby says: don’t start scoreboard watching August. Woof! Woof! Woof!
Birthdays: A roll call of former Rangers this week starting with former 1st round draft pick IF Jason Romano turning 32. He was a principal member of the 1998-1998 Division champion teams: RHP Aaron Sele is 41. The local legend and former Ranger coach “The Twig” Wayne Terwilliger celebrates No. 86 this week. Do you remember his brief stint with Texas in 1993? Doug Dascenzo turns 47. Most fans would rather forget his season with the Rangers – Richard Hidalgo is 36. He’s a former Ranger All-Star and current Dodgers pitching coach: Rick Honeycutt turns 55.
Birthday of the week: He made it to the majors at age 27, and played 3 not particularly memorable seasons with a lifetime 2-0 record and 5.28 ERA. However, his nickname has made him immortal: Louis Straub Durham aka “Bull Durham” was born on June 27, 1877.
Toby’s Reading List: Clark, Derek and Kirk.
A must read: MLB’s Louie Horvath’s excellent article on Ranger minor leaguer Clark Murphy and his brother
If you think you’ve already heard way too much already about Derek Jeter’s impending 3,000 hit milestone – you haven’t read this.
Meanwhile in the Arizona Diamondback’s clubhouse: moving into first place brings out the pranksters.
“It’s part of being a closer. We look forward to the next time he pitches. We’ll give him the ball and expect him to get it done.” — Michael Young on Neftali Feliz’s blown save on Wednesday.