Cubs pitcher Scott Feldman starts camp as starter
BY GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org
Chicago Cubs' Scott Feldman during a spring training baseball workout Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, in Mesa, Ariz. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
MESA, Ariz. — A year ago with the Texas Rangers, Scott Feldman, who had won 17 games in 2009, finally was healthy again and ready to reclaim a starting role.
The Rangers didn’t see it that way and sent him to the bullpen.
‘‘It was a little disappointing,’’ he said. ‘‘There just really was no spot for me.’’
But there will be a spot for him in the Cubs’ rotation. Manager Dale Sveum said Thursday that Feldman ‘‘will be one of the starters.’’
Sveum followed that up with a disclaimer that there’s no guarantees of any spots after Edwin Jackson, Jeff Samardzija and Matt Garza. But the Cubs approached Feldman early in free agency about joining their rotation, and he signed in November as one of five experienced starters on the roster.
When the Cubs signed Jackson to a four-year deal just a month later, Feldman’s role seemed less certain. The talk from management had been about the three locks in the rotation and a battle for the last two spots.
But if Feldman had a reason to be peeved, that doesn’t seem to be his attitude.
‘‘It’s not like I was like, ‘Damn, we signed Edwin,’ ’’ he said. ‘‘I was happy about it. He’s a good dude. And he’s a good teammate from everything I’ve heard.’’
Now Feldman, 30, opens camp with a rotation job to lose. That leaves Travis Wood and Carlos Villanueva to battle for one spot until Scott Baker is ready. His return from Tommy John surgery puts him at ‘‘an above-average chance of probably starting a little bit late,’’ Sveum said.
Assuming he doesn’t have a significant setback, he likely would start the season on the disabled list at least one full turn through the rotation, assuming a move backdated the maximum days allowed before the opener.
As for Feldman, the talk of roles and numbers is just noise. He said he’s just looking forward to a ‘‘fresh start” and “clean slate” after 10 seasons with the same organization.
‘‘I don’t think you can promise anything,’’ said Feldman, whose 2009 victory total represents a single-season high among the seven Cubs pitchers in the mix for rotation jobs. ‘‘They said, ‘Just come in here, you’re going to be a starter. Go to spring training, and do your thing.’
‘‘But I’m sure if I go out there and don’t hold my end of the bargain up, I’m not going to be a starter. So I’ll just go out there and do my thing, and I think everything will take care of itself and I’ll be fine.’’