Road trip brings back memories for Feldman

CORPUS CHRISTI - As the team bus pulled up to Whataburger Field last Thursday, Frisco pitcher Scott Feldman was reminded of a special moment in his baseball career. Lone Star Dugout takes a look back at that historic night while also discussing Feldman's current progress.

Though it is just another stop on the Texas League trail for most players, Corpus Christi will always hold a special place in Scott Feldman's heart.

While playing with Double-A Frisco in 2005, Feldman was part of just the third perfect game in the Texas League's 117-year history. It was also the first combined perfect game in the circuit's history.

The game was started by A.J. Murray, who struck out nine batters in six innings, but was pulled due to a strict pitch count. Former big leaguer Steve Karsay then followed with two perfect innings, setting the table for the closer to do his job.

"You don't want to mess up somebody's perfect game," said Feldman of his mindset going into the ninth inning. "It was a close game too so it kind of doubled the pressure I guess."

Feldman retired the first two hitters he faced, but ran into trouble when he fell behind the game's 27th -- and final -- hitter on a 3-1 count. The right-hander says he wasn't about to let the perfect game end on ball four.

"I was going to throw it right down the middle," he said. "I was thinking that if he hits it, it is better than walking him."

After throwing a strike to bring the count full, Hooks batter Wade Robinson hit a sharp ground ball to third baseman Adam Fox, who, coincidentally, was also in the lineup for the ‘Riders on Saturday.

"I just wanted to stay down on it," said Fox, recalling the play. "It was hit from a left-hander, so it had that weird side-spin on it. It was hit hard and I just stayed down and tried to make it as routine as I could without thinking about what was going on at the time."

Fox was able to make the play cleanly to complete the perfect game.

Fast forward three seasons and Feldman is once again pitching at the Double-A level, this time as a starting pitcher. After working as a starting pitcher with a three-quarters arm slot in college, the Rangers made Feldman a sidearming reliever after drafting him in 2003.

Feldman reached the Majors in short order, appearing in just 83.1 minor league innings before pitching with the Rangers. But the College of San Mateo product struggled in 2007, as he walked 32 batters while striking out just 19 in 39 big league innings.

The Rangers chose to raise Feldman's arm slot back to the three-quarters position he pitched at in college. After a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League over the offseason, the club decided he had the body and stuff to work as a starting pitcher.

Feldman's first start of the season was outstanding. The 25-year-old surrendered one run on three hits in seven innings against the Springfield Cardinals. The performance earned him a spot-start in the Majors, where he gave up three runs in six innings against a strong Toronto offense.

But Feldman returned to Double-A Frisco to continue working as a starting pitcher. He made his return to Corpus Christi's Whataburger Field on Sunday. Feldman was inconsistent, allowing five runs on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings.

"I thought it was pretty bad," said Feldman of his start. "I don't think my mechanics were too good and my location wasn't very good. I was falling behind a lot of guys."

The Hawaii native is currently back at the Double-A level so he can get more consistent with his new mechanics. Feldman believes he has been able to do that – for the most part.

"[My mechanics] are getting better and better," he said. "My last three or four times out before that it was real good, but it wasn't too good [last night]. It's getting better though."

Though Feldman still throws the hard sinker, the arm slot adjustment has caused his breaking ball to change. Instead of throwing a sweeping slider, Feldman now features a more traditional curveball. However, the change is simply because of arm slot.

"I just kept the same grip," said Feldman of his breaking ball, "but my arm is higher, so it's more like a curveball now."

Feldman appeared in 73 Major League games over three seasons as a relief pitcher, amassing a solid 4.42 earned run average. Still, the righty says he is more than happy to be a starting pitcher once again.

"I like coming in as a starter because it's your game, you're in control and you set the tone," replied Feldman. "Whereas in the bullpen you're coming into somebody else's game and they have gone out and done their thing. You might just go in for an inning or something like that, so I like being a starter and being on a set schedule."

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