As I wrote yesterday, Sandy Alderson has once again attempted to overhaul the Mets’ bullpen, this time for the 2013 season. Among the veterans and new faces in the Mets’ crowded relief corps in Port Saint Lucie is an old friend, Perpetual Pedro Feliciano.
Feliciano earned his nickname for the heavy amount of work he did as a member of the Mets’ bullpen in the 2008, 2009, and 2010 seasons. His appearances in those years numbered 86, 88, and 92 respectively. In each of those seasons, Feliciano led the majors in mound visits by a pitcher. After the 2010 season, Feliciano signed with the Yankees as a free agent. However, in two seasons as a member of the Bronx Bombers, Feliciano never got into a game. The reliever had sustained a torn capsule of the rotator cuff and required surgical repair. The Yankees said the injury was caused by overuse while Feliciano was a Met, and they were probably right. However, Feliciano is back with the Mets, hoping to make the team for his third go-around in Queens (Feliciano pitched for the Mets from 2002-2004, then spent the 2005 season in Japan before coming back to the Mets starting with the 2006 season).
Why would the Mets consider the 36-year-old Feliciano, who has not thrown a baseball competitively since 2010? For one reason, Feliciano has historically been devastating against left-handed hitters, holding them to a .214 average during his career. In 683 official ABs against Feliciano, left-handed hitters have hit only 10 home runs off of him. In addition, Pedro has struck out 210, or almost one third, of all lefties to have faced him. Right-handed hitters have fared quite a bit better against Feliciano, posting a .283 average against him, with 19 home runs in 729 ABs. Clearly, at this point in his career, the Mets are looking at Feliciano as a lefty specialist out of the bullpen. Pedro faces stiff competition for that role (or roles) this year, as the Mets are looking at Josh Edgin, Scott Rice, and Robert Carson, and Darin Gorski this spring, for what will be a maximum of two spots.
Feliciano has been slowed this spring by a heart condition, despite which he has been recently cleared to play. In his first spring appearance today, Feliciano faced three left-handed hitters, retiring two while walking one. With his health concerns, recent inactivity, and the stiff competition he’s facing, Feliciano may have a rocky road to the Mets’ bullpen this season. Perpetual Pedro is someone who, as a Mets fan, you want to root for. He has been successful with the team, and done some heavy lifting while enjoying few rewards for his efforts. I hope that Pedro is able to stay healthy and find work with the Mets this year. His experience can play an important role (think Jason Isringhausen) in what will likely be a youthful bullpen.