SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers manager Ron Washington is pleased with pitcher Neftali Feliz's work ethic.
He's scheduled to pitch three innings against the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday. He's only been in the big leagues for three seasons, but Washington isn't concerned with Feliz's switch to the starting rotation this spring. He said Feliz, 23, had to grow up fast as a closer. Although it will be another learning curve for the right-hander, Washington can tell from Feliz's body language he's taking his new position seriously.
"He might struggle a little bit, but then again he might not struggle," Washington said. "We don’t know but we’re going to take the chance and as long as he’s healthy, he’s going to get the ball."
Washington said Feliz has the stuff to become a starter, it's just a matter of Feliz figuring out how to use it. He's still gaining his arm strength this spring. Washington said Feliz's fastball was around 94 mph in his first start. He gave up three runs on three hits against the Chicago White Sox on March 8. Feliz gave up a home run to Adam Dunn during his two innings of work.
"It’s going to be a grand experience and I do think he’s going to take it and run with it," Washington said.
*Catcher Mike Napoli will still have time to play a spring training game with pitcher Yu Darvish on the mound. Washington said Darvish will start three or four more Cactus League games. Napoli has been behind the plate for some of Darvish's bullpen sessions, but he hasn't caught one of Darvish's starts yet.
*Washington said outfielder Josh Hamilton still has time to get out of his early funk in spring training. He's 3-for-18 with five strikeouts.
"He's not comfortable right now," Washington said. "He's just got to keep seeing pitches."
*Matt Harrison and Derek Holland will pitch against the Chicago Cubs when the teams play in Las Vegas this weekend. There will not be a designated hitter in either game. Washington will try to avoid giving the pitchers the green light at the plate. He will make the trip with pitching coach Mike Maddux.
Washington doesn't anticipate any moves before the trip. Usually the team would make roster moves at this time but since Washington needs to field two teams in four games this weekend, he can't afford to do so this spring.
*Washington plans to pile at-bats for Brad Hawpe. Similar to what Mitch Moreland did Sunday, Washington wants Hawpe to leadoff every inning during the team's B game. He also wants Hawpe to hit during live batting practice.
Washington might have the same approach with Conor Jackson. After 50 to 60 at-bats, Washington said he usually has a good idea of what veterans can do at the plate.