PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Pedro Feliciano returned to the spring-training complex he called home through 2010 this week and could not be happier.
“I feel like I’ve never been out -- like my old family,” said Feliciano, who signed a minor league contract to return to the Mets three weeks ago. “We had some other options. It never crossed my mind that I was going to get back here. But I’m here. I think it would be the perfect place to come back in and show the people I’m ready. I think I’m ready, like the old Feliciano.”
Feliciano defected from the Mets to the Yankees after setting a franchise single-season relief record in 2010 with 92 appearances.
Despite not pitching in the majors the past two seasons, Pedro Feliciano still ranks 15th in relief appearances by a left-hander since 2008.
He underwent shoulder surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff on Sept. 8, 2011. He never appeared in a major league game in pinstripes while collecting $8 million over two seasons.
Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen recommended the Mets re-sign Feliciano.
And Terry Collins acknowledged Tuesday that Feliciano has a leg up to join Josh Edgin as the left-handers in the Mets’ bullpen if he looks anything like he did during his first tour of duty with the ballclub.
“Certainly I think he’s got a leg up to face that left-handed hitter,” Collins said. “He’s done it. He’s made a career doing it. He’s done a great job doing it. If there’s still something in the arm to continue to get that done, obviously he’s got to be that guy that you can use nightly to face one guy.”
Feliciano, 36, made seven relief appearances in the Puerto Rico winter league with Ponce this offseason. He had a 1.23 ERA while allowing two hits, one walk and one hit batsman in 7 1/3 innings. Lefty batters were 0-for-8 against him.
“I heard our scouts down there had him at the mid-80s, and I wanted to give him another chance,” Warthen said. “If he can throw like he did for us before, then he’s a valuable asset.”
Said Feliciano: “When I started in Puerto Rico, I was like 85. But, at the end, I was throwing harder. No one told me [precisely], but it feels good.”
Feliciano incredibly ranks 15th in the majors in relief appearances among left-handers over the past five MLB seasons, even though he has not appeared in a major league game the past two years. Still, Feliciano does not link making 86, 88 and 92 appearances in consecutive seasons with the Mets with his subsequent shoulder surgery.
“No, no, no,” Feliciano said. “I think it just happened one day. I never had a problem with my arm. Just one day I felt it.”
As for taking $8 million from the Yankees and never appearing in a game, he said: “It’s hard for me because I’m a guy, I like to be on the mound. I like to be pitching. I like to hear my name on that phone. The last two years have been hard to watch the game and not do what I like to do. I know I got money, but I don’t want to have that money like that. I want to pitch.”
Meanwhile, Feliciano long since has forgotten the public sniping with the Mets that occurred right after his shoulder woes surfaced with the Yankees.
Brian Cashman had said the Mets abused Feliciano. Warthen then expressed regret for Feliciano’s overuse in Flushing and said that was a major reason Feliciano was not re-signed by the Mets. Feliciano, insulted, vowed to strike out Ike Davis as retaliation.
He never had a chance because he never pitched in two seasons with the Yankees.
“We’re good friends,” Feliciano said, referring to Davis. “We’re all good. When I wasn’t here, there was a lot of talk. But now we’re all good.”
Said Warthen: “We saw each other on the field shortly after that. He understood where I was coming from. I understood where they were coming from. I understood where Cashman was coming from.”