Mariners and Rainiers fans might remember Ryan Feierabend, a once-promising young left-handed pitcher who blew out his elbow before firmly establishing himself in the major leagues.
Now Feierabend is on the comeback trail, excelling in the starting rotation of the Round Rock Express, the Texas Rangers’ Triple-A affiliate.
Feierabend went 7-1 with a 2.04 ERA in 13 starts for Tacoma in 2008, earning a call-up to Seattle. He struggled during a late-season look, going 1-4 with a 7.71 ERA over eight August and September starts.
Feierabend tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow early in Mariners spring training camp in 2009, requiring Tommy John surgery. He missed the entire season.
The left-hander spent the 2010 season in recovery with the Rainiers, dealing with extreme highs and lows while posting a 4-7 record with a 5.30 ERA in 17 starts.
Since that season, he’s been a baseball nomad. Feierabend has pitched for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Triple A club for the Phillies), the independent York Revolution, Louisville Bats (Triple A for the Reds), and now Round Rock.
“I’ve been all over the place,” Feierabend said. “I pitched in Venezuela this winter, couldn’t get a job, went home to Ohio and was working out indoors at my high school. A Rangers scout was there, he made some phone calls, and here I am.”
Feierabend is 6-4 with a 3.70 ERA for Round Rock, which ranked as the eighth-best ERA in the Pacific Coast League heading into Saturday’s games.
Facing the Rainiers earlier this week, Feierabend was throwing noticeably harder than he did while helping the Rainiers win the Pacific Coast League title in 2010.
“The 2010 season was my first year coming off of Tommy John surgery,” Feierabend said. “I was throwing 85-to-88 (mph). It’s taken a few years for everything to click and get back to where I was pre-surgery. I’m 89-to-92 now, touching 93.”
Still only 27 years old, and still left-handed, Feierabend has a good chance of one day returning to the major leagues.
Tacoma infielder Ty Kelly tied a Pacific Coast League record when he drew five walks in one game in the Rainiers’ 14-inning win over Colorado Springs on Friday night.
Coincidentally, the last PCL batter to walk five times in a game was Dexter Fowler of Colorado Springs, on June 21, 2011. That game was also 14 innings long, and it was also played at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma.
Going into Saturday’s game, Kelly had drawn 37 walks in 39 games since joining Tacoma on July 2. The second baseman is batting .310 with a .450 on-base percentage.
Mariners Single-A third baseman Patrick Kivlehan extended his hitting streak to 20 games with a 2-for-4 performance Friday night.
Kivlehan is batting .413 (33-for-80) during the hitting streak, with six home runs and 27 RBI.
The 23-year-old was the Mariners’ fourth-round draft pick in 2012, out of Rutgers University.Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers.