Cashman: Mets abused Feliciano

Relief pitcher Pedro Feliciano, new to the Yankees

Relief pitcher Pedro Feliciano, new to the Yankees this season, throws during spring training at George M. Steinbrenner field in Tampa. (Feb. 14, 2011) (Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara)

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Saturday that the Mets "abused" reliever Pedro Feliciano and indicated that he's not sure signing the lefthander was a good idea.

"It's one of these," Cashman said while crossing his fingers, indicating he's hoping it all works out.

Feliciano, who is on the disabled list with what the Yankees are calling a left rotator cuff strain, signed a two-year, $8-million free-agent contract in the offseason with a club option for 2013.

The 34-year-old led the major leagues in appearances in each of the last three seasons while with the Mets, pitching in 86, 88 and 92 games under Willie Randolph and Jerry Manuel.

Feliciano's 344 appearances from 2007-10 are an all-time record for a four-year span.

"He was abused," Cashman said.

Then why did he sign him?

"It's a thin market when you're looking for lefties, and he's one of the better ones out there," he said. "But you don't typically run to sign up guys who have been used like that.''

Even so, Cashman said he isn't necessarily convinced it was the right thing to do.

"It's a limited market," he said. "I wouldn't say I'm convinced. I'm just saying it's a limited market.''

Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen, told of Cashman's comments, said: "They didn't know that when they signed him? He volunteered for the baseball every day. He was asked if he was able to pitch and he said yes every day and wanted to pitch more than we even pitched him.

"I feel badly that someone feels that way, but that was part of the reason we decided not to re-sign him, because we knew we had used him 270-something times in the last three years."

Feliciano was not available after Cashman made his comments, but he has said he does not think the Mets overworked him.

Cashman made his comments about Feliciano during a routine pregame inquiry about the pitcher's status. Feliciano hasn't pitched since an exhibition appearance March 9 because of soreness in the back of his shoulder. The Yankees originally called it a triceps muscle injury, but after an MRI, they are calling it a rotator cuff strain.

"The concern is based on the MRI," Cashman said. "The use pattern was abusive, but the MRI itself obviously shows what he's got, and that leads us to believe all this is resolvable and it's not a major issue. It's just a timing issue."

Feliciano said he feels better and is supposed to play catch Wednesday. Cashman said the best-case scenario would have Feliciano returning later this month.

"He's a situational lefty, so it's not like he has to get stretched out or anything," Cashman said. "When he's healthy and ready, he can go."

The Yankees have another high-priced lefty reliever on the disabled list. Damaso Marte, who is in the final year of a three-year, $12-million contract, hasn't pitched since July because of shoulder troubles.

Cashman has been more outspoken in recent months. He seemed to realize this at the end of the interview when he said to reporters, "Maybe I shouldn't be too honest. What do you guys think?"

With David Lennon

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