SURPRISE, Ariz. -- More than how the slider looks or if the confidence in building in the changeup, it's the demeanor of Neftali Feliz that manager Ron Washington is watching more closely.
The skipper has made it clear since the club announced that Feliz was going to start that the young pitcher's work ethic in the offseason, in spring training and throughout 2012 was a critical component to his success. So what did Washington think of Monday's 10-minute throwing session to hitters?
"I love his attitude," Washington said.
That statement, more than any other, is a sign that Feliz is making progress. He arrived looking strong and focused. On Monday, his changeup and slider were on display. David Murphy hit a home run off one changeup, but Josh Hamilton missed a few of them. Washington said Feliz was trying to get a feel for the changeup and added he still has some work to do on it. Still, the manager was pleased with Feliz's performance.
"He's focused and he's confident and he's getting the opportunity to use all his pitches in batting practice," Washington said. "He has been a leader in his group out there. So far, he seems very happy to be a starter. To me, that is 50 percent of it. The other 50 percent is going out and getting it done. He's determined to do well. He's going to win some game for us."
Feliz's first Cactus League start comes March 8 against the White Sox. It will be interesting to see how the secondary stuff looks in a game situation.