Former Mets relief pitcher Pedro Feliciano dies at 45

PORT ST. LUCIE, FL - FEBRUARY 21: Pedro Feliciano #55 of the New York Mets poses for a photograph during spring training media photo day at Tradition Field on February 21, 2013 in Port St. Lucie, Florida.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Former Mets pitcher Pedro Feliciano died on Sunday at age 45. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

Former New York Mets relief pitcher and lefty specialist Pedro Feliciano has died, according to ESPN's Eduardo Perez.

The Mets released a statement about Feliciano's passing.

“The Mets are so saddened to hear of the loss to their family today. Pedro Feliciano will be remembered as a beloved member of the Mets organization for his impact as a great teammate as well as his reputation as one of the most competitive, durable and reliable relievers during his time in Queens. Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Feliciano family. Rest in peace, Pedro.”

Feliciano was just 45, and according to Perez, died in his sleep after jet skiing with his family on Sunday.

Feliciano's journey to MLB success

Feliciano, who only pitched for the Mets in the majors, had a long and winding route to becoming a late 2000s bullpen mainstay. The Rio Pedras, Puerto Rico native was picked by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 31st round of the 1995 draft, and he spent the next six years playing in the minors and dealing with injuries. He became a free agent after six years, having not made it to the majors. He signed with the Mets for a stint in 2002 and again in 2003.

He didn't find success with the Mets just yet. He pitched in a few handfuls of major league games, but wasn't the lefty specialist he'd eventually be. The Mets sold his contract to Japan's Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, which is where he spent the 2005 season. But when Feliciano re-signed with the Mets in early 2006, he found his groove.

From 2006-2010, Feliciano was a machine for the Mets. He led all MLB pitchers in appearances in 2008, 2009, and 2010, appearing in more than half of the Mets' games. Over five years, Feliciano pitched 299 2/3 innings over 408 games and had a 3.09 ERA.

Feliciano signed a two-year contract with the New York Yankees in 2011, but he never ended up pitching a single inning in pinstripes. He had severe shoulder and rotator cuff issues, almost certainly from being overused, and had surgery that wiped out his 2011 season and most of 2012. He was healthy enough to pitch for the Yankees' minor league teams in the early fall, but didn't make it to the majors before his contract expired.

He went back to the Mets in 2013 for what would end up being his final season in the majors. He pitched in 25 games, and despite signing a few minor league deals over the next two years, never made it back to the show. Over his nine-year career, Feliciano had a 3.33 ERA, appearing in 484 games and pitching 383 2/3 innings.