Scott Feldman wants to put a frustrating 2010 season behind him and get back to Arlington. Thursday's outing should help expedite things.
Feldman tossed five no-hit innings but didn't factor into the decision as Triple-A Round Rock lost to Nashville, 1-0, despite pitching a combined one-hitter.
Feldman struck out five and walked two, facing two over the minimum in his third start for the Express. He left after throwing 73 pitches, 47 of them for strikes.
"I had a pretty good feel for everything," Feldman said. "[Catcher Kevin] Cash and I were on the same page. He called a great game, pretty much throwing to him all night."
Feldman underwent microfracture surgery on his right knee during the offseason and has not pitched in the Majors since Aug. 21. The 28-year-old right-hander was the Rangers' Opening Day starter in 2010 and finished 7-11 with a 5.48 ERA in 29 outings. Thursday's game marked the best Feldman has felt since the surgery.
"The most important thing is that my knee felt just as good in the last inning as in the first," he said. "The last two outings it's been night-and-day from when I was first on my rehab assignment.
"I was having a little conversation with Terry Clark, the pitching coach here in Triple-A, about how everything looked. I was telling him that I feel better than I felt in at least a year. I think I am ready to go whenever they give me a call."
Feldman, who has been part of the Texas organization since the team selected him in the 30th round of the 2003 Draft, could just watch last year as the Rangers reached the World Series for the first time in team history. It was a frustrating end to the season for a player who was named the club's top pitcher in 2009 after winning 17 games.
"It was really disappointing," Feldman said. "It was one thing to not be out there and all that stuff, but especially the first time we had accomplished that and to not be part of it was frustrating.
"It really makes me want to get back there this year and contribute. I guess I felt like I was there but I wasn't doing anything, and that's not a good feeling. I was seeing how much fun those guys were having, and it was cool for me to be part of it, but it would mean more if I could contribute and help the team win."
Feldman, who has started 78 games for the Rangers over the past three seasons, is anxious to get back on the field as the Rangers defend their American League West title.
"I'm pretty much going to do whatever they have a need for," he said. "I think that I can start, I've shown that before, but we're in a pennant race and we're trying to win. I think that whatever they ask me to do I'll do and try to give it my best."
Derek Hankins took over for Feldman and, after tossing a perfect sixth inning, gave up a leadoff homer to Brett Carroll in the seventh. Hankins (5-5) finished with four strikeouts in his two innings. Beau Jones followed with a perfect eighth to polish off the one-hitter. Despite the outcome, Feldman wasn't disappointed.
"I think that from a baseball standpoint, it was just a well-pitched game," he said. "It happens sometimes. We played really good defense and ran into a really good pitcher on the other side."
Amaury Rivas (5-6) earned the win after striking out eight and allowing three hits over seven innings. Zack Segovia notched his first save with a perfect ninth.