A few hours before Friday’s game at Progressive Field against the Cleveland Indians, Texas Rangers reliever Ryan Feierabend was out warming up on the field.
The Midview graduate was at the home of his favorite team growing up and several members of his family and friends had purchased tickets in the hopes of seeing him pitch.
But before Feierabend could even get a chance at realizing a lifelong dream of pitching at Progressive Field, he was reminded that baseball is a business first. Feierabend was designated for assignment by the Rangers just before Friday’s game. Texas purchased the contract of Columbus native and Youngstown State product Phil Klein, a right-handed pitcher, to take his spot.
On Monday, Feierabend cleared Major League Baseball waivers and accepted an outright assignment back to the Rangers’ Class AAA team, the Round Rock Express. Reached by phone, Feierabend said he’s still waiting to hear the exact details before he reports to the Express.
“I had my choice to accept my assignment to AAA or to become a minor league free agent,” he said. “With three-and-a-half weeks left in regular season, my agent and I thought it would be best to go back to Round Rock. With three-and-a-half weeks left, it was kind of a no-brainer to return to the organization I started with.
“The Rangers said there were some moves they had to make because the season didn’t go as planned for them and they wanted some young guys to get a taste. The guy who got called up to my spot is a first-time big leaguer, and he deserved it. They said I could be right back up with the team and they said to be ready if I was still in organization.”
Feierabend said the only time he pitched against the Indians was in Seattle in 2008, when he was starter with the Mariners. He made one other appearance as an opposing pitcher at Progressive Field that same year, but he had started against the Minnesota Twins the night before and never pitched in a game.
“It was cool to be in the clubhouse and take everything in,” Feierabend said. “I met Carlos Baerga in the visitors clubhouse and that was pretty surreal. I told him I grew up watching him in the ’90s, so that was a cool moment.
“It would have been a great experience to pitch at Progressive Field. That’s something I wished for since I grew up in the area. Going to Cleveland Indians games with my dad as a kid, I always wanted to pitch in the big leagues for them, but pitching against them at home would be cool, too. Unfortunately, this is a business and I’ve seen the good, bad and ugly.”
The good this time for Feierabend is that the Rangers made it clear they wanted him back.
“They said they understood if I left, and they didn’t want me to leave,” he said. “It was comforting to know that. It was disappointing, but I’ve been a pro for 12 years. This isn’t my first rodeo, and I know this is a business.”
He was 0-0 with a 6.14 ERA in six relief appearances for the Rangers, giving up five runs (all earned) in 7⅓ innings, striking out four and walking two. He is 2-11 with a 7.15 ERA in his major league career.
Feierabend would likely return to the starting rotation at Round Rock, but he said he’d have to take a week to get his arm stretched out after not starting for more than three weeks. He doesn’t know what the Express’ plans are for him yet.
While Feierabend took the demotion in stride, his friends and family couldn’t help but be disappointed for him.
“I know it’s a business and stuff like that, but Texas is 16 games out,” Midview baseball coach Scott Jalowiec said. “You’re not going to throw that kid a bone? He worked so hard to come back from Tommy John surgery and spent six years to make it back. He had a month in The Show. Worst case, if you knew you were going to DFA him, let him throw Friday night. A lot of people were there to see him.
“Saturday, you could have broken the news to him. They bring up a YSU kid, but you couldn’t wait a day? That would have made both of their seasons.”
Jalowiec was going to go to Friday’s game, but found out about the move just before he left the house.
Former North Ridgeville baseball standout Matt Feierabend, Ryan’s cousin, attended all three games with his family.
“That was a bummer,” he said. “My sister got my dad Father’s Day tickets and my mom and dad went down Friday. I actually canceled plans to hang out with a friend of mine in Michigan to attend the games to see Ryan pitch.
“From what my dad said when he talked to him, he was on the field playing catch and then they pulled him into the office. … I know he was pretty disappointed.”
Contact Dan Gilles at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.