Neftali Feliz said he felt the inflammation since Spring Training. Makes me think that physical stress from stretching out as a starter had something to do with it. Are these suspicions valid?
-- James A., Plano, Texas
That is certainly a legitimate question. Whenever an athlete goes through a significant change in routine and then comes up ailing, the automatic reaction is to point to that as the reason. The Rangers don't see it that way and have made it clear that will not keep them from considering Feliz for the rotation at some point in the future. They did not see him as being hurt in Spring Training and are more inclined to blame the early cold weather for what happened with Feliz. They still don't think it is serious and expect Feliz back shortly.
Do you think being around Cliff Lee for the last part of the season last year has had a carryover effect to how Derek Holland and Matt Harrison are pitching this year? Their demeanor and the way they are attacking hitters just seems really similar to what Cliff did in his time here.
-- Brad M., Abilene, Texas
Certainly Lee is a good role model for any pitcher, but there are many people who deserve credit for the early success that Holland and Harrison are enjoying. Pitching coach Mike Maddux, bullpen coach Andy Hawkins, rehab pitching coordinator Keith Comstock and manager Ron Washington are high on the list as well. But ultimately the real credit has to go to the two pitchers and all the hard work they put in to get to this point. They still aren't there yet, and they know that as well as anybody.
How many runs did the Rangers score in the 2010 season, after they had two outs? It seemed that they scored a lot of runs last season after two outs.
-- Byron B., Duncanville, Texas
The Rangers were tied for second with the Red Sox with 312 two-out RBIs in 2010. The Twins led with 319. They led the league with a .285 batting average with runners in scoring position and two out. Through the first 24 games this season, Texas had a huge lead in two-out RBIs in the American League.
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Has Cuban defector Leonys Martin signed, and if so, do you think he'll be a Texas Ranger this season?
-- Aaron R., Dallas
He has not signed. There are still significant bureaucratic layers of red tape to fight through before it becomes official. There are widely varying opinions on how good this guy is, but nobody is really going to know until he actually starts playing in the United States. He will likely begin at Double-A Frisco. There has been some success with Cuban players in recent years, and the Rangers point to White Sox infielder Alexi Ramirez. But others have been big disappointments. Texas signed first baseman Jose Ruiz in the offseason and he is hitting .345 at Frisco.
What are the Rangers going to do when Tommy Hunter comes back from his injury and C.J. Wilson, Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland and Alexi Ogando all keep pitching well? Will Hunter possibly pitch in the eighth inning or will the Rangers consider going to a six-man rotation?
-- Garrett N., Carlisle, Pa.
These questions continue to be premature, because Hunter and Brandon Webb are still a month away from returning. The Rangers are not going with a six-man rotation though. That one you can rule out. One thing you can count on is at some point Texas will need somebody to step into the rotation. The reason is not known right now, but it is an unfortunate part of Major League baseball. At that point, it will all depend on who is ready.
How is Scott Feldman doing on his rehab? It seems like he could give the club a big boost later in the season.
-- Derek H., Bastrop, Texas
Feldman had knee surgery last November and is pitching in extended spring camp. Like Webb and Hunter, he is still at least a month away. All three need at least five more outings so they can work up to six to seven innings and about 100 pitches.
I see that Dustin Nippert is still listed as a free agent. I find it hard to believe that he was not offered at least a Minor League deal somewhere. Would the Rangers be interested in signing him to an incentive laden Minor League contract? He was not that bad as spot starter/long reliever.
-- Mark E., Longview, Texas
Nippert is pitching for the Doosan Bears in Korea and is doing quite well. He is among the early leaders in wins and ERA, and the veteran righty appears to be enjoying life in the Far East.
After reading the Newberg Report about Jurickson Profar, I saw comments about possibly moving Ian Kinsler to the outfield in the future to make room for him. How plausible is this suggestion?
-- Shadd A., Wylie, Texas
If Michael Young can change positions three different times in a span of eight years, then anything is plausible. But Profar is still a couple of years away, and anything at this point is speculation.
How does the DH rule work in Triple-A ball? In the past few years, I went to OKC RedHawks games and there was always a DH. I went last Monday when OKC played Albuquerque and there was no DH, but went again on Friday to see Round Rock play, and there was a DH. What gives?
-- Bret B., Oklahoma City, Okla.
It depends on the parent clubs of the teams involved. In Double-A and Triple-A, the designated hitter is not used if the game is between two affiliates of National League teams. You'll have to get used to it now that Oklahoma City belongs to the Astros.
I noticed last year in the playoffs, when standings didn't matter, that the flags on the center-field roof were all Texas flags instead of all 30 major league teams. The two games I've attended this year were the same way. Is this going to continue through the year or will they eventually go back to showing the standings using the flags?
-- Alex C., Waxahachie, Texas
The Rangers really like the look of having multiple Texas flags flying from the office building and will keep it that way. Chuck Morgan said he is looking for a way to incorporate the daily standings onto the new scoreboard but they are always up-to-the-minute here on MLB.com.
Is it time to replace Julio Borbon with Craig Gentry? Gentry is also a plus defender and couldn't be worse at the plate.
-- Aaron J., Arlington
The Rangers could use a right-handed-hitting outfielder more than a third catcher, and Gentry could help in that regard. My opinion however continues to be that Borbon can play and will be regarded as a plus both offensively and defensively as Texas' center fielder.
When a player like Josh Hamilton goes on the DL, is he still required to suit up, sit in the dugout, and travel with the team? Or is he free to spend time with family?
-- David B., Broken Arrow, Okla.
Whether or not an injured player travels with the team usually depends on how close he is to returning and how much actual baseball activity he can do. If it is little or none, there is no reason to travel with the team. At home games, injured players are suited up and on the bench. All injured players have to report daily and get the necessary treatment, no matter what. Often the Rangers send injured players to Surprise, Ariz., to get their work done there.
Pedro Strop looks like the next Alexi Ogando. What do you think?
-- Bill M., Amarillo, Texas
As a reliever, that is a possibility. Strop has outstanding talent, the Rangers just want to see him stay under control when he is on the mound and "slow the game down." That oft-used catchphrase simply means don't get in a hurry and don't get overwhelmed by the speed of a Major League game.
Where are all the fans' questions with ridiculous trade suggestions? You know, Albert Pujols for Taylor Teagarden, Mark Lowe, Guillermo Moscoso, Rusty Greer and a 6-pack of Shiner.
-- James P., New York
Everybody is too obsessed with what will happen when Hunter, Webb and/or Feldman return or fretting about the new Rangers broadcasting arrangements, which are out of my control.