If you just looked at yesterday's boxscore, you'd be quite discouraged with Neftali Feliz, as he continues his transition to the starting rotation. Feliz surrendered three runs on three hits in two innings of work, including a three-run homer by Adam Dunn in the first inning, capping off Chicago's damage against Feliz.
Still, there's reason to be encouraged with Feliz' start on Thursday.
As many pitchers do in the spring, Feliz decided to work on his off-speed stuff solely, trying to get the feel and rhythm for it as the spring progresses. Per Jeff Wilson, though, his fastball only topped out around 94 -- and it's what Dunn crushed out of the park for his homer.
Feliz concentrated on his off-speed pitches at Surprise Stadium, but saw his fastball hit hard in the first inning. The four-seamer lacked its midseason zip, topping out at 94 mph, and Adam Dunn launched a three-run homer in the first on a fastball that didn't get as far inside as Feliz wanted it.
Don't be alarmed that Feliz was topping out at 94, either. Yeah, we're all used to seeing Feliz bring his high 90s fastball to the ninth inning, sometimes breaking 100, but we're not going to see that too often anymore. Feliz may be able to reach back and touch the high 90s when need be, but for the most part, he's going to be operating in the 92-95 mph range as a starter -- and that's perfectly acceptable, as long as his off-speed stuff is working, and his command is there.
Feliz settled down in his second inning yesterday, retiring the White Sox in order. It can't be said enough that results in spring training are meaningless, it's just how the player looks and feels during the spring that's important.