GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Scott Feldman has started on Opening Day for the Rangers (2010) and Astros ('14). Especially in Cincinnati, the veteran right-hander is aware of what it means."Opening Day is just a special day," said Feldman, who will face the Phillies and Jeremy Hellickson on April 3 at Great
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Scott Feldman has started on Opening Day for the Rangers (2010) and Astros ('14). Especially in Cincinnati, the veteran right-hander is aware of what it means.
"Opening Day is just a special day," said Feldman, who will face the Phillies and Jeremy Hellickson on April 3 at Great American Ball Park. "It's something when you're a little kid, I know I spent the whole offseason looking forward to watching that first game. I'm sure there are plenty of fans in Cincinnati doing the same thing. For players, it's a very exciting time. It's something I'm really looking forward to."
In those two previous openers, Feldman was 1-0 with a 1.98 ERA. His team won both games.
The Reds signed Feldman on Jan. 26 to a one-year, $2.3 million contract, with an additional $2.2 million in incentives. At the time, it was uncertain whether he would wind up in the rotation or bullpen. Once Homer Bailey was injured before camp, Feldman was viewed as a No. 3 or 4 starter. After Anthony DeSclafani hurt his elbow, and only Feldman and Brandon Finnegan were locked into the rotation starters, the options for Opening Day became pretty clear. The Reds went with Feldman's experience.
Feldman was 2-1 with a 3.86 ERA in five spring starts.
Last season for Houston, Feldman made five starts before he was moved into the bullpen. His main numbers were respectable -- a 1-2 record and 3.65 ERA -- but a deeper dive showed some struggles. In those 24 2/3 innings, he walked 11 and struck out 15 and his WHIP was 1.62. Opposing hitters batted .290 with a .310 average on balls in play.
Overall for the Astros, Feldman had a 2.90 ERA in 26 games. He was moved at the Trade Deadline to the Blue Jays and struggled in their bullpen, recording an 8.40 ERA in 14 appearances.
This spring, Feldman made it a point to improve his changeup. Last season, it was a pitch he used only 15 times -- according to Statcast™.
"I think, as far as projects go over the years with my changeup, I would say this is the best that it's gone," Feldman said. "I feel like I can throw it and bring it into a Major League game and not be embarrassed to throw it. Hopefully I can get some outs, because I got some outs with it down here in Arizona."
In his final spring tune-up, Feldman used the changeup 10 times, he estimated.
"I just think it will hopefully help me and keep my pitch count down," he said. "Any time you can add a pitch, it should be a benefit. Something you can control and throw for strikes."
After pitching on Tuesday, Feldman will have an extra day of rest before facing the Phillies. He will use the time to prepare for his opponent, but also tackle the tasks of being in a new city and surroundings.
"I'll get my apartment set up in Cincinnati," he said. "In between starts, I will try to recover as much as possible and get ready for the next start. I'll start looking at the projected lineup for the Phillies, go over some video and do my normal routine as I would if it were my 10th start of the year or 20th start of the year."
Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.