By Shannon Drayer
Good to be back after a couple of days off. Sorry I missed last night’s game; it was definitely one of Felix’s better starts against the Angels, a team that has given him trouble in the past. Why didn’t he go the distance in this game? He admitted to being a bit tired after his eight innings pitched and put up no fight when taken out of the game. No reason for concern over that, according to Eric Wedge.
“When I went to tell him he was done he acknowledged the fact that he was,” Wedge said. “It was good to get him out of there, we didn’t have the same issues that we had in the previous start.”
Felix experienced some back stiffness in that start in Houston, something he has been dealing with on and off with for some time now. While in past years Felix would often put up a fight when the skipper came to take the ball from him during games, he hasn’t done that in well over a year. While complete games are no doubt a huge reward for him, staying healthy for the entire season is a bigger one, and Felix realizes that.
“He’s a good communicator,” Wedge said. “Sometimes I go down there and I am in between and I am going to see how he reacts. Other times I go down there with my mind made up and still listen, but more times than not we are on the same page. I think he has a good understanding. There are real reasons if I am taking him out of the game.”
Of course, a trusted closer in Tom Wilhemsen down in the pen makes the move easier for Wedge to make. I was wondering if this has helped save Felix any innings in the early season but not really. Felix has just thrown 2 1/3 fewer innings through six starts this season than last. His numbers this April are slightly better than last April, striking out two more and walking five fewer. A fairly typical April for Felix. So far so good.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of Danny Hultzen, who was in the clubhouse this morning getting checked out by the trainers. Hultzen was scratched from his start Thursday after not being able to get loose in his warmup. He was diagnosed with a left rotator cuff strain and tendinitis and shut down. Frustrating, yes, but Hultzen was encouraged by what he had been told.
“There’s a lot of tendinitis and inflammation but they said it is not worrisome. Just a couple of weeks of rest and then get after it after that,” he said.
Hultzen said that he had felt a little stiffness before Thursday’s attempted outing but nothing that he couldn’t get past. That day, however, as he was doing his long toss, pitching coach Dwight Bernard noticed that he didn’t look right and came out to ask if everything was okay.
“I didn’t really want to say anything but he shut me down,” said Hultzen, who admitted that obviously it was a good decision. “It’s a tough one. You need to know the difference between hurting and being injured. All pitchers, their arm doesn’t feel good all the time but they need to know the difference between when to say something and when to just go through it. This was one of the times when I should say something.”
It was no doubt tough to take himself out as he had been pitching very well. Hultzen appears to have put his command issues behind him, having walked just six batters in his first four outings.
“I think that the second go-around and going through the full season I am a lot more comfortable in knowing what is going on a little bit and that’s helped out a lot,” he said of the improvement he has shown.
Hultzen is to be shut down for a couple of weeks but will then need to build back up a bit as he can condition but not throw. Hopefully this is just a minor roadblock because as I said, he had been pitching well and had the look of a pitcher that was getting closer to the big leagues.
As Hultzen was talking to the media, Brandon Maurer and Carter Capps were waiting nearby to talk with their former Jackson teammate. The three are still very close and had a lot to talk about. First and foremost Capps and Maurer wanted to know how he checked out from his training room session. Then Capps had something he wanted to show Hultzen: A small case of flies. The three are fishing enthusiasts and Capps is learning to fly fish and no, he does not cast side arm. It was fun to watch the three interact and hopefully something we will see on a regular basis in the near future.
Last bit of fun: Have you caught Charlie Furbush’s Bullpen Banter on the Sunday Magazine Show? He is a rather charismatic host to say the least, and gets a great interview out of Capps. Learn why Capps knows so much about pickles, what nicknames he would prefer and what pet he is hoping to acquire soon.