New manager Alex Cora and new pitching coach Dana LeVangie had a simple message for pitchers this spring: take it easy. The laid-back attitude is part of the new approach that Boston Red Sox upper management keeps talking about this offseason. The idea is most simply not to overtax the pitchers any more than they need to be ready for the regular season. For example, on days that starters throw bullpen sessions, they will not be responsible for doing any fielding or cover drills. David Price, Chris Sale, Rick Porcello, and Drew Pomeranz have all been instructed to take it slow, and are expected to make no more than four or five starts this preseason. Each of the aforementioned starters has had things go a little differently for them this Spring.
Price’s time in Boston has been…rocky. And that is well documented. Perhaps with a new manager and staff, Price can turn a new page. He’s certainly in favor of the new approach to spring training. Price had his first start last week – and it was a great one. The southpaw threw four scoreless innings, allowed one hit, gave up one walk, and struck out five. The $217 million man was satisfied with the start saying “I had really good fastball command early. I made good pitches when I needed to. I stayed away from the big part of the plate with the exception of a couple of fastballs.” Cora was excited as well, saying the start was “great.” For Price, the appearance is his first start since an injury derailed him last July. He was exceptional out of the bullpen late last season and in the postseason. A big campaign would be huge for Price, as a bad one would certainly turn the Boston fan base against him.
Boston’s ace pitched incredibly well last season but didn’t finish nearly as strong as he would have liked. Sale has started twice so far this spring and looked like his old self in both. He allowed one run in his first start, a four-inning bid. He allowed two hits, walked one, and struck out five. Sale actually went too hard in his first start, firing fastballs at 97 miles per hour right out of the gate. In his second start, Sale was even more dominant. In five innings against the Minnesota Twins, he threw for five innings, gave up two hits, and struck out seven. He’s thrown 55 pitches in nine innings this Spring – every single one of them was a strike. That’s ridiculous. Safe to say Sale is ready for the season to start.
After a disappointing and injury-riddled 2016, Pomeranz turned into exactly what they thought they were getting last season (17-6, 3.32 ERA). Unfortunately, the third lefty in Boston’s rotation was pulled after one scoreless inning in his first start due to a forearm strain. Pomeranz didn’t seem too concerned, saying that there was no reason to push it. He pitched a bullpen earlier today, going two innings and throwing 33 pitches. Pomeranz felt good after, saying “I threw a bullpen the other day where I was just kind of moving. Today I actually started firing them in there. I felt great. I felt normal.” That being said, he may not be ready to start the season. Don’t fret: he missed his first start last year before completing a great season.
Remember when Porcello won the Cy Young? It feels like forever ago. His overall stats this Spring aren’t pretty – 1-1, 4.91 ERA, 2 BB, 12 K – but there have been positive signs. He pitched two scoreless innings with four strikeouts in his first start. His second start was rough. He allowed four runs in four innings on seven hits with a hit batsman. His third start was a mix. He pitched five innings, allowed two runs on four hits. He struck out five, but walked two. Basically, Porcello has been exactly the same as he was last year. Inconsistent with flashes of potential. Looks like more of the same is on the way for this year.
If you would like to receive an email each time a new Boston Red Sox article is published, fill out our email notification form.