Feltner has path to return in '23 after skull fracture, concussion

August 5th, 2023

ST. LOUIS -- When Ryan Feltner stepped onto the bullpen mound Saturday in the heat of a St. Louis afternoon, he told himself he wasn’t going to throw harder than 90 mph. After all, it was his first formal bullpen session since suffering a skull fracture and major concussion when he was hit by a Nick Castellanos line drive 2 1/2 months ago.

But after warming up and throwing a handful of pitches, he unleashed one that was measured at 92 mph. Oh well.

“The intensity was higher than I wanted, but it was a comfortable intensity,” Feltner said. “That’s a good sign. I feel strong.”

Those will be comforting words to anyone who witnessed Feltner sprawled on the Coors Field mound after being hit in the back of the head by a ball struck at 92.7 mph in that May 13 game. Feltner spent one night at a Denver hospital. Then, over the intervening months, he experienced just about all the symptoms of a serious concussion, including bouts with vertigo. He spent time rehabilitating at Banner Concussion Center in Arizona.

Last week, he was cleared to resume baseball activities. He will gradually increase the intensity of his bullpen sessions, throwing around two per week for the next three weeks before the Rockies meet to discuss a medical rehab assignment for him somewhere in their system. For now, the fact that he has a path to pitch again in 2023 is being viewed as a happy development around the team.

“There’s sort of a green light for him to get back into pitching shape, so he’s excited about that,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “I think it’s important, and he thinks it’s important, too, for him to get back on the mound this year, so he can have a winter of just getting ready for baseball and not that gray area of the mental hurdle of getting back.”

Feltner, 26, said just getting back on the team plane for this trip felt meaningful. Before the injury, he had gone 2-3 with a 5.86 ERA in his first eight starts.

“In the past month or so, I’ve realized I had a chance to come back this year,” Feltner said. “Up to that point, it was more in the team’s hands as far as letting me recover and not putting any timelines on it, which was super nice as far as the recovery process.”