ARLINGTON -- To call Opening Day's meeting between the Rangers and White Sox a rematch for Nolan Ryan and Robin Ventura is a stretch at best, and fiction at worst.
Now that Ventura has been hired as Chicago's manager, his club will square off with the Rangers team that Ryan runs on April 6, 2012, at the Ballpark in Arlington. Ventura was in a Chicago uniform on Aug. 4, 1993, when he charged Ryan at Arlington Stadium.
What ensued was one of baseball's most famous fights, but Ryan isn't sure why it's still in the public's consciousness nearly 20 years later.
"You know, I'm truly surprised by that," said Ryan, the Rangers' president and CEO, after Game 2 of the American League Championship Series against Detroit was rained out Sunday. "I'm really happy for Robin, that he's getting that opportunity [to manage]. It should be with the White Sox. I think he's the type of person that you want to see in that position, because I think he's good for baseball, and he knows the game. And he played the game the right way. So I'm happy to see him in that position.
"But I am, I'm surprised that this thing has had the life that it's had."
Ventura was 26 and Ryan was 46 at the time the latter hit the former with a pitch. Ventura charged the mound, and Ryan put him in a headlock while delivering repeated punches. The Rangers won the game, 5-2.
Rainout makes Ogando available for Game 2
ARLINGTON -- Rangers manager Ron Washington said reliever Alexi Ogando would not have been available for Game 2 of the AL Championship Series if it had been played on Sunday afternoon.So the fact that Game 2 was postponed until Monday was one tangible benefit that worked in the Rangers' favor. "He would have been down today," Washington said. "The fact that we're not playing today brings him back into play. Once again, we can get multiple [innings] out of him. We'll just see how things go and how bad the need is to push him." Ogando, who was a starter during the season before being moved to the bullpen, threw 32 pitches over two scoreless innings in Game 1 on Saturday night. He has now pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings over four outings in the playoffs since becoming a reliever. The postponement does not change Texas' starting rotation. Derek Holland will have to wait an extra day, but he is still scheduled to start Game 2 on Monday. He will still be followed by Colby Lewis in Game 3 on Tuesday, Matt Harrison in Game 4 on Wednesday and, if necessary, C.J. Wilson in Game 5 on Thursday. The rest of the squad wasn't too worked up about having Game 2 postponed. The announcement came about 3 1/2 hours before the game was scheduled to begin. "We never liked to be delayed and we never liked to be cancelled," second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "But it would be a lot nicer if we could change the rain now and put it in August or June, when it was like 106 degrees 21 days in a row." "It's good because we don't have to wait around," catcher Mike Napoli said. "If we had to wait around, we'd wait around, but now I get to go home early. I'll go home and watch football all day -- watch my fantasy team take charge and win, as usual."
Postponement brings extra work for Napoli
ARLINGTON -- Sunday's postponement means Mike Napoli may do something he hasn't done all year: start four straight games at catcher."I can do it," Napoli said. Napoli and Yorvit Torrealba split the Rangers' catching duties during the season. But Napoli was one of the hottest hitters in the second half, hitting .383 with 18 home runs and 42 RBIs in 61 games after the All-Star Games. Manager Ron Washington has gone exclusively with Napoli at catcher in the playoffs. That was the plan coming in and Washington said he will stay with it even though Napoli will be catching four straight games. "He's done it before," Washington said. "If there's a change, I'll make it. But I can't sit here now and say that, but we'll see how it goes."
Playoff experience helping Feliz thrive
ARLINGTON -- Neftali Feliz allowed one hit in the ninth inning of Saturday night's 3-2 opening win of the American League Championship Series. He faced three other Tigers hitters, and struck them all out.
The slowest fastball he threw was 96 mph, and the fastest 101, according to MLB.com's Pitch/fx.
For a bullpen that had some question marks until midseason upgrades provided some fortification, Feliz has been the least of the Rangers' concerns on the back end, and he's shone again in his second attempt in the playoffs. It's easy to forget that it's just his second year in the Majors.
"He did it last year in this setting, so he's under control," manager Ron Washington said Sunday after Game 2 of the ALCS was rained out. "He certainly looked focused to me, and I think with each outing, of course he gains more and more experience. This is his second year as a closer. With each successful outing, it just builds his confidence."
In 11 career postseason appearances, Feliz has allowed two runs on six hits and seven walks in 11 2/3 innings, for a 1.54 ERA. He has 16 strikeouts, too. But he only had one save opportunity last year in the postseason, saving Game 3 of the World Series. He has saved four straight for Texas this postseason.
He did give up one run this postseason, in the clinching game of the AL Division Series against the Rays, and held on to finish off a one-run lead. The last three saves of Feliz's four this postseason have come in one-run games.
Letting the potential tying run on base, as Feliz did Saturday, doesn't make things easy for Feliz's manager. But Washington has survived.
"I'm very comfortable with him," Washington said. "When you are trying to get those last three outs of a ballgame, I don't think you can do anything about what your ticker is doing. You just hope it continues to tick."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. Evan Drellich is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @EvanDrellich. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.