Feldman, Reynolds reunited in Rangers camp

Feldman, Reynolds reunited in Rangers camp

Feldman, Reynolds reunited in Rangers camp
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- In the summer of 2001, Scott Feldman had led his Burlingame team to the California state tournament for the Joe DiMaggio Summer League. Under league rules, Burlingame was able to pick up one player from another team to take with them.

Feldman had just graduated from Burlingame High School and the player taken was a sophomore from nearby Pacifica on the San Francisco peninsula. Burlingame took Greg Reynolds.

"We took him even though he was only 15," Feldman said. "He was really good and he could hit. I think he batted cleanup or fifth for us."

Reynolds is a pitcher in Rangers camp, but he didn't do much pitching for that Joe DiMaggio team. Their best pitcher was the tall skinny kid from Burlingame who did not have one single college scholarship offer waiting for him in the fall. Feldman was only the third best pitcher on his high school team before his breakout in the summer league.

"He was definitely one of the best pitchers," Reynolds said. "I knew who was he was. I had faced him when he was pitching for Burlingame, and he was tough."

Burlingame is on the southwest shore of San Francisco Bay near the airport, a suburb known for its affluence and Victorian architecture. To get to Pacifica on the other side of the San Andreas Fault, you have to drive north on U.S. 101 and around the coastal mountains that form the spine of the peninsula. The picturesque beach town is nestled into many small valleys among the Sweeney Ridge and Montara Mountain. The raging ocean makes for great surfing at Rockaway and Linda Mar Beach.

Feldman and Reynolds are no longer separated by the geography. Their lockers are next to each other in the Rangers' clubhouse, giving them ample opportunity to discuss the San Francisco 49ers' needs in the upcoming NFL draft.

Both took tortuous paths from that Joe DiMaggio League in the summer of '01 to get to this point in their careers. Feldman was the underdog who emerged from the obscurity of his suburban high school to a pitcher on a World Series team. Reynolds was the high school all-everything who could have played quarterback in college. UCLA had some interest although UC-Davis was the more likely option.

But he was the California Baseball Player of the Year as a senior so he went to Stanford to pitch. Even then Stanford football coach Buddy Teevens asked him if he wanted to play football.

"But I didn't have a good freshman year in baseball so I decided I better concentrate on baseball," Reynolds said. "I didn't need to take on anything else."

Feldman, two years ahead of Reynolds, left Burlingame and went to nearby College of San Mateo. The two-year college is only a few miles up the peninsula from Stanford but in a completely different athletic universe. He had no other choice but the coach had seen him pitch in the Joe DiMaggio League and was still interested.

"They didn't have scholarships but it was only $11 a unit," Feldman said. "I never thought I'd get a chance to play in the big leagues. I thought I might be able to go to some place like Chico State. I didn't even have the littlest scholarship offer."

He was 25-2 in two seasons at San Mateo and was twice named Coast Conference Player of the Year. The Rangers drafted him in the 30th round of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft. He was the 886th player taken.

"You really started hearing about Scott at CSM," Reynolds said. "He really put up some unbelievable numbers."

Reynolds was drafted by the Phillies out of Terra Nova High in the 41st round that same year but did not sign. His first two years at Stanford were a struggle but he had a breakout performance in the 2005 NCAA regional championship game against Baylor. Reynolds went 11 innings, striking out a career-high 10 batters, before Stanford lost in the 12th inning.

As a junior, Reynolds emerged as Stanford's ace, leading the team in wins, ERA, strikeouts and innings. He beat Cal's Brandon Morrow and Washington's Tim Lincecum in head-to-head matchups. In the 2006 Draft, one of the best ever for pitchers, he was the second-overall pick. Luke Hochevar was the No. 1 pick while Reynolds was taken one spot ahead of Evan Longoria. Other pitchers drafted in that first round include Morrow, Lincecum, Clayton Kershaw, Kyle Drabek, Daniel Bard and Ian Kennedy.

"I always knew he was a good player," Feldman said. "But when he got close to being drafted, that's when they were really blowing him up to be such a great prospect, I thought that was really cool."

The Rockies were the team that took him. Reynolds had the choice of playing in by far the toughest ballpark in the big leagues for pitchers or going back to Stanford for his senior season.

"I heard it was bad but as a competitor, you like to think nothing can stop you," Reynolds said. "You think you'll be successful wherever you go. Looking back there were better places to go but it happens. I wanted to start my baseball career."

The Rockies had him in the big leagues in less than two years. It could have been quicker but he had shoulder problems in 2007 after going 4-1 with a 1.42 ERA for Double-A Tulsa and being named to the Texas League All-Star team. He made his Major League debut on May 11, 2008, and was 2-8 with an 8.13 ERA the rest of the way. Welcome to Coors Field.

Reynolds was limited to one game in 2009 because of inflammation in his upper back. He came to Spring Training healthy in 2010 and was pitching well until he took a line drive off his elbow in a Cactus League game. It chipped the bone and cost him two more months.

"It was literally the worst-case scenario for a three-, four-year period," Reynolds said.

He stayed off the disabled list last season, going 6-7 with a 6.81 ERA in 19 starts at Triple-A and 3-0 with a 6.19 ERA in three starts and 10 relief appearances. In a trade of players who needed the classic "change of scenery," Reynolds was traded to the Rangers in the offseason for first baseman Chad Tracy.

He comes into camp as a long-shot candidate for the Rangers' bullpen. His old Joe DiMaggio teammate is one of the guys blocking his path. Feldman enters camp as a candidate for the rotation but more likely the Rangers' best middle-relief option. Reynolds could win a spot in the bullpen or more likely be stretched out as a starter for Triple-A.

Feldman was in a similar position with the Rangers in 2008. After overcoming Tommy John surgery in the Minors, he spent 2005-07 bouncing back and forth from Triple-A to the Rangers as a reliever. In 2008, the Rangers decided to make him a starter and the plan was for Feldman to spend the season at Double-A Frisco adjusting to his new role.

He made just two starts at Frisco before he was needed at the big league level. He won a spot in the rotation and then became a 17-game winner in 2009. A knee injury that required surgery set him back two years but he was one of the Rangers' most effective relievers in the 2011 postseason.

Feldman has persevered. He believes Reynolds can, too. There was a reason why Reynolds was added to that Joe DiMaggio team 10 years ago.

"He's got to get healthy again," Feldman said. "He's had some tough things happen. I hope he can get healthy and let his talent shine through. If so, that will take care of everything else."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.