Texas Rangers

March 10, 2014

Rangers spring break: Journeyman pitcher had to go indie to find his way back

Left-handed pitcher Ryan Feierabend is hoping to return to the big leagues.

Seven-year itch

It took Rangers pitcher Ryan Feierabend 18 months after Tommy John surgery to gain his footing on the mound.

After his 2009 surgery, his velocity had dropped to 85-87 mph.

“I was trying to throw the same way I had,” said Feierabend, 28, who last pitched in the majors in 2008. “I was one of those cases where my command came back before my velocity did. Even though I was commanding the ball pretty well, at 85-87, if you’re not right on, it’s going to get hit by the higher-level competition at Triple A.”

By the time he adjusted to his new velocity, his command faltered and he was released by the Phillies organization and regrouped in an independent league.

“That’s when both things started clicking. My command and velocity were both there,” he said.

His velocity was back to pre-surgery levels, and at times he threw even harder, touching 93.

He took a step back after signing with the Reds halfway through the 2011 season and returned to independent ball, where he again found his groove.

The more relaxed nature of the independent league suited Feierabend’s recovery.

“Not that the competition is worse, because there are Triple A and big league guys who are in that league, but it was more like we are playing this game because we have fun, not for any other reason.”

He’s having fun again as non-roster invitee in Rangers camp. He threw his first spring training inning Monday and held the Reds hitless with a strikeout.

“I never lost confidence in myself and the ability to pitch,” he said. “The hardest thing in this game is trusting your stuff. It took a while for it to come back, and 2012 was great for me and last year was another big step in the right direction. Hopefully this year it’s the same thing, keep making strides forward and hopefully make it back to the big leagues where I was seven years ago.”

He said it

“Once I got it, I had to take the responsibility. I wanted to get into that, and I got to see a lot more things happen behind the scenes that I didn’t really realize before. This has been huge for me. Every day I learn something different from those guys.” — Rangers LHP Derek Holland on being the team’s union representative

Word from Wash

“Harry is anxious to get out there. I just hope he can control his adrenaline. It’s going to be a lot different [than throwing batting practice]. No screen, no cage. True hitters. We’re not talking about the kids we bring over here to hit off of those guys in the morning. They do a good job, but these are major league hitters.” — Manager Ron Washington on Matt Harrison, who pitches in the Rangers ‘B’ game Tuesday, his first game of the spring

Injury update

LHP Derek Holland (knee surgery): Throwing from 60 feet, lifting upper and lower body, walking on treadmill.

OF Engel Beltre (shin splints): Started in Monday’s game and struck out in his lone at-bat.

INF Brent Lillibridge (bruised right thumb): Has resumed all baseball activities.

C Geovany Soto (foot): Tentatively scheduled to catch live batting practice on Tuesday.

OF Alex Rios (strained right intercostal): Day-to-day.

INF Jurickson Profar (shoulder tendinitis): Still in throwing program but yet to do relays and cutoff throws beyond 105 feet.

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