Friday night at Citi Field, New York Mets reliever Pedro Feliciano did something he hasn’t done in more than two and a half years: pitched in a MLB game. It’s been a long road back for Feliciano, but the veteran lefty was able to complete a most improbable comeback.
Feliciano spent his entire professional career with the Mets until leaving after the 2010 season to sign a big-money contract with the New York Yankees. However, shoulder problems that Feliciano developed due to his overuse over several years with the Mets prevented him from ever pitching a game with the Yankees, despite signing a two-year contract with them.
Not only did the Yankees not get one pitch out of Feliciano during the course of his two-year contract, but because Feliciano was a type-B free agent that signed with another team, it gave the Mets an extra draft pick in 2011, which they used to draft Michael Fulmer. He is on the cusp of being one of the Mets’ top five pitching prospects, and was considered by most to be among their top 10 prospects heading into the season.
After never appearing in a Yankee uniform, when Feliciano was a free agent once again this past offseason, he returned to the only organization he’s ever known, signing a minor league deal with the Mets.
Although skeptical of his abilities after more than two years away from the majors and an abundance of shoulder problems, they gave Feliciano a chance. Feliciano slowly worked his way through the minors this season, but the Mets remained skeptical, as his velocity maxed out in the low to mid 80s. But despite a lack of velocity, Feliciano had no trouble retiring minor league hitters, allowing just four runs in 21 innings.
When Josh Edgin was put on the disabled list, the Mets finally gave Feliciano an opportunity to return to the big leagues, where he got thrown into the fire right away against the Kansas City Royals. Feliciano entered the game with runners at the corners and two outs, and just as he has done a thousand times before, he induced an easy ground ball to get out of the inning.
If the Mets weren’t so terrible at scoring runners from third base with less than two outs, Feliciano would have been the winning pitcher, which would have been the perfect way to cap his return to the big leagues. But winning pitcher or not, Feliciano will certainly take it. A lot of pitchers wouldn’t have been able to get back to the big leagues the way Feliciano has, especially with such a drastic decrease in velocity.
What happens from here on out is merely icing on the cake, as Feliciano has made a most impressive comeback and returned to the majors against great odds; for that, he deserves to be recognized.