Just before that start of the 2007 season as the Mets were breaking camp at Port St. Lucie I remembered a conversation I had with Mark Hale of the New York Post. It was one of the first interviews I did for MMO, and one of my questions was regarding a seldom heard reliever by the name of Pedro Feliciano.
I think one of the players I read and hear the least about is Pedro Feliciano. I really love his makeup and he is coming off a superior season last year. This spring he looked even more dominating and I have to ask, is he the real deal?
You know you’re right, he is very, very underrated, and part of that for me is that some of us, including myself, probably have not given him the credit, or publicity, or attention that he deserves. He had a phenomenal season last year, and you’re right he also had a terrific spring. He has really become a guy that if he can have another great season like he did last year, than all of a sudden he becomes one the best lefty setup guys in baseball. He’s become a very, very valuable person for this team and he has become very reliable. You kind of forget about him and then all of a sudden you look up and you say “wow, he hasn’t given up any runs in his last ten outings” or you look at his spring numbers and say “wow, he’s scoreless in ten innings, or whatever it is” and it makes you realize how good he’s been. .
I can’t believe that was seven years ago, and Feliciano went on to have a tremendous 2007 season and he became one of the most integral parts of the Mets bullpen for the next four years, leading the majors in appearances for three of those seasons. His 92 appearances in 2010 are a franchise record and one that will most likely stand the test of time. From 2006-2010, Feliciano threw 299.2 innings for the Mets, striking out 280 batters, and earning the nickname of Perpetual Pedro from his endearing fans.
Free agency beckoned after the 2010 season and Feliciano went on to sign a two-year, $8 million dollar deal with the New York Yankees. However, he would never toss one single pitch for them after succumbing to a shoulder injury in the Spring of 2011 that would require season-ending surgery. Battling a sprained ankle the following Spring and continuing a long and grueling rehab from his shoulder surgery, time ran out for Pedro and the Yankees and just like that the lefthanded setup man was a free agent once again.
In January, the Mets came calling. Desperate to revamp a bullpen that ranked last in the majors for two straight seasons, Sandy Alderson turned to a Feliciano and signed him to a minor-league deal. Things were progressing quite well until Feliciano contracted a dangerous case of food poisoning after eating some bad fish. It wiped him out for two months. But all the hard work and perseverance finally paid off and on Friday, August 2, his phone rang… It was the Mets.
“When I got that call in Nashville, I knew it,” Feliciano said. “My heart started beating. I never lost it in my mind that I could make it again.”
Feliciano picked up right where he left off and with his bags still unpacked and on his first day back with the team, Terry Collins called on him to get one batter out in a critical situation in the ninth. Mission accomplished.
The very next day, Perpetual Pedro pitched a dominating 1-2-3 eighth inning, throwing eleven pitches, eight of them for strikes.
“One thing that was very good to see, was the command of his stuff,” Mets manager Terry Collins said after that game on Saturday. “It was great to see. He made some great pitches when he had to.”
Since his return, Feliciano has retired seven of the eight batters he has faced including a huge out in the eighth inning last night to retire the Diamondbacks and leave the bases loaded. You couldn’t write a better script for the return of Perpetual Pedro even if you tried. Welcome back, Pedro…