The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.
Over the past 10 years, Marsh Feldman has been an easy person to spot. The man in the pristine Texas Rangers ball cap, who can generally be found at a San Mateo County baseball diamond somewhere — that’s Marsh.
This year, however, Marsh has doffed a brand new cap, since his son Scott Feldman— after a decade in the Rangers organization — signed a one-year deal with the Chicago Cubs over the offseason.
“I think the minute that he found out that I was going to be on the Cubs, he put all his Rangers gear away and sat on the internet and probably ordered 10 shirts and a bunch of hats to pass them around to the family,” Scott Feldman said.
After an abysmal performance in spring training, Feldman is slated to begin his National League career tonight, as the Cubs take on Braves lefthander Mike Minor in Atlanta. But his bad showing in the Cactus League may be a telltale sign of good things to come for the 30-year-old.
Prior to this year, Feldman’s worst preseason showing came in 2009, when he posted a 5.40 ERA over six spring-training starts. When it counted though, the Burlingame native and former College of San Mateo star turned in his finest major league season, notching a 17-8 record to lead the Rangers in wins. Now, coming off a spring in which he surrendered 38 hits over 20 innings to yield an inflated double-digit ERA, Feldman is poised to prove he belongs in the Cubs starting rotation.
“I’ve always been in the Cactus League every spring,” Feldman said. “So I’m used to the ball kind of flying out of there…. You’re not getting quite as much movement, and it’s really dry. It’s kind of hard to get a grip. But those are things you just have to deal with. From a numbers standpoint, it wasn’t the greatest spring training. But from a health standpoint, and just feeling like I have a feel for my pitches, I feel like I’m ready to go and start the season off, and I’m hoping it will be my best year yet.”
After his first professional season in 2003, Feldman underwent Tommy John surgery. Since his return to the mound in 2004 however, the big right-hander has steered clear of any further arm injuries.
Yet, after establishing himself as a big-league starter in the Rangers rotation, a serious knee injury sidetracked Feldman amid Texas’ two-year run as the class of the American League. The franchise captured consecutive AL pennants to advance to the World Series in 2010 and 2011.
Feldman was a mainstay of the rotation by making 78 big-league starts between 2008-10. But in 2010, between the acquisition of Cliff Lee in July, the return of Derek Holland from the disabled list in August, and a subpar second-half performance by Feldman, the veteran was removed from the rotation at the start of the stretch run.
After working the final two months of the regular season as a swingman, Feldman was left off the 2010 postseason roster with a knee injury. He would eventually be diagnosed with a microfracture of the right knee, for which he underwent surgery in Nov. 2010. After missing much of the following season after knee surgery, Feldman returned to the Rangers in July 2011 as a reliever. It was a reprieve of the previous season, as Feldman pitched his way onto the postseason roster. And he had an outstanding run to help Texas reach the World Series once again, working a combined 8 2/3 scoreless innings throughout the AL Division Series and Championship Series.
But, after struggling to reestablish himself as a starter in 2012, Feldman departed his original organization when the Rangers declined to pick up a club option on his three-year contract. Fielding offers from several teams over the offseason — including preliminary talks with the Royals and the Blue Jays — Feldman opted to change leagues when Chicago all but guaranteed him a spot in their starting rotation. He starts the 2013 campaign as the Cubs’ No. 4 starter.
“I’m excited,” Feldman said. “It’s the first time I’ve ever been on a new team. It’ll be nice to go out there and do well. And hopefully I can do well and stay with the Cubs for a few years. That’s definitely my goal.”
Feldman remained with the Rangers through the entirety of the postseason in 2010, as seen in a memorable Sports Illustrated photo portraying him at the forefront of a forlorn Rangers dugout amid their World Series loss to the Giants. All Feldman could do is watch as the breaks went against his team, such as the infamous double off the top of the wall in Game 2 by his former roommate Ian Kinsler.
“[That play] pretty much, to me, summed up the way that the Giants were playing,” Feldman said. “It seemed that everything they were doing was going their way. And every move that [Giants manager Bruce Bochy] made worked out perfectly to a T. It couldn’t have gone any better. They were on fire. They were playing so well together. On top of that, a lot of the breaks were going their way.”