SEATTLE -- Scott Feldman's decision to reject his outright assignment to Triple-A Round Rock means he's activated for tonight's game in the bullpen. He'll be a long man and can also spot start if needed (so could Tommy Hunter).
"The way we looked at it was Scott was ready to come back, his rehab assignment was up and we prioritized having him continue to start and be ready in case we have an issue over potentially a long role in the bullpen," GM Jon Daniels said. "We approached him with that. It's his right and prerogative to make a call and to his credit he's worked extremely hard to come back from his injury. It's been a long road for him and he felt like he wanted to contribute."
To make room for him on the active roster, sidearm righty Darren O'Day was sent to Triple-A. O'Day, still recovering from hip surgery, still had options, so the Rangers could make that move. (In other words, the rules are what they are and can help or hurt players depending on how they are used. O'Day could be optioned because he has options left, Feldman couldn't because of his service time.)
"This allows him to pitch on a regular basis given the injury," Daniels said. "It's a hard thing to do at the major league level because you're dictated by need and how long the starter has gone, but in Triple-A you can pretty much schedule him to pitch in meaningful spots. When he gets on a roll, we'll look to get him back here. He's been one of our most effective pitchers the last few years."
The Rangers came to Feldman about 72 hours ago and told him they'd like for him to go to Triple-A. A player in that position has time to think about what he wants to do and while he did that, the club put him on waivers. Feldman informed them of his decision Wednesday night. The clubhouse has not opened yet here in Seattle, but Feldman was on the field for fielding practice before tonight's game in Seattle.
Feldman, 28, had more than five years of service time in the big leagues, enabling him to decline the outright assignment. That forced the Rangers to decide whether to release him -- and still have to pay his sizeable remaining contract -- or activate him. That's why he's active and in the bullpen tonight.
It means that should something happen to someone in the rotation, the Rangers would likely spot start Feldman or Tommy Hunter. That would mean they wouldn't be able to pitch as deep because they aren't fully stretched out. Martin Perez was promoted to Triple-A, but Daniels said that had nothing to do with Feldman.
"He needed a challenge," Daniels said about Perez.
Feldman was 3-1 with a 4.17 ERA in 10 starts between Double-A Frisco and Triple-A Round Rock (eight of those starts at Triple-A) with 32 strikeouts and 11 walks in 49 2/3 innings.
The size of Feldman's contract, one that he signed with the club prior to the 2010 season, makes the entire process more complicated. He is owed $4.4 million this season and $6.5 million in 2012. After that, the club can buy him out for $600,000 or pick up the option for 2013 at $9.25 million. That's the main reason he cleared waivers, as any team that claimed him would have been required to pay his remaining contract.
Coming off a 2009 season in which he won 17 games and had a 3.78 ERA in 31 starts (and got the new deal), Feldman couldn't get anything going in 2010. He was 7-11 with a 5.48 ERA in 29 games (22 starts) and then dealt with the injury.
The Rangers hope he can figure things out in the bullpen and find that sinker, which induced a lot of ground balls in 2009.