BOSTON In early August Scott Atchison stood in front of his locker in the Red Sox clubhouse talking about the pain in his elbow and his fear that he may have to undergo what would be season-ending surgery.Instead, after a visit to Dr. James Andrews, Atchison was given the relatively good news that all he would need was some rest to repair the tear in his right elbow.
Atchison was sidelined for almost two months, missing 55 games, before returning Sept. 12. Since then, he has appeared in three games, spanning 3 13 scoreless innings, giving up two hits with two strikeouts.
My arms feeling great, Atchison said. Having no problems, recovering good. When Im out there I dont feel anything. Everythings feeling normal. It feels like it always does. So far, I cant complain.
The tear will not go away on its own. But for now, its something Atchison can pitch with.
What Dr. Andrews essentially explained to me was, he said, 'You have a chronic tear. Its been there. Its either been getting progressively worse or its just been like this, Atchison said. He said you could have been pitching with it torn as bad as it is now for a year, a month, a week, whatever. He said you didnt feel anything on one pitch so that tells us that you didnt change anything on the tear. Where some guys feel a pop or something on a pitch, I didnt feel anything like that.
So his explanation was that sometimes with things like that, with some rest you can get better and it will kind of go back to the normal. So, Im taking it as I have a tear, Ive had it for a while, and Ive been pitching like it is for a while, and I either just got fatigued a little bit or strained something around it and that caused us to then examine why I was having problems. And then we discovered there was a big tear. But in turn, I felt like that was the best approach, once he said that, that this was the best way to approach it.
Atchison has been one of the bright spots in what has been a very dismal Red Sox season. He has appeared in 40 games, posting a record of 2-1 with a 1.64 ERA. In 49 13 innings, he has recorded 36 strikeouts, compared to just nine walks, three intentional, for a 4.00 strikeouts-to-walks ratio, above his 2.78 career mark. His 0.973 WHIP is the best of his career, better than his 1.228 career number.
While little has gone right in this season for the team as a whole, from an individual perspective, Atchison is satisfied. At the time he was placed on the disabled list, he was second in the American League with 46 innings pitched, 12th with a 1.76 ERA. Despite missing 55
games, he is tied for second among AL relievers with 12 appearances of two or more innings pitched. He threw a team-high 19 23 scoreless innings from April 29 June 3.
Its been a good year from a personal standpoint, said the right-hander. I feel like over the last two years Ive shown that I can pitch consistently in the big leagues and be a successful big
league pitcher. And I think that this year has just confirmed that even more. For me, it was to be here all year and to preferably be healthy all year, but just try to be as consistent as I can and I feel like Ive done that pretty well. So its been a good year from that standpoint. I wish I wouldnt have missed two months, but in turn these last three weeks have been a nice way to finish for me going into the offseason knowing that my arms healthy and theres no problems.
With 40 appearances, fourth most on the Sox staff, Atchison is just three behind his career high of 43 in 2010, when he threw 60 innings in his first season with the Sox.
Two years ago was the first time I spent more than two months consecutively in the big leagues. So its not like I have a lot of high appearance totals out there, he said. One thing Ive always done is when Ive been here is Ive always pitched a good amount. But I guess its a little surprising that Im that close. I dont really keep track of it. But I know manager Bobby Valentine was using me and I felt good. Ill go out there as many times as I can. Id rather be getting used than sitting there doing nothing. Its been nice. And just try to finish up these last 10 games strong.
Atchison will be 37 in March. As one of the older guys in the Sox clubhouse, and with so many younger players having bigger roles this season, he has tried to set a good example.
I think mostly for me its trying to lead by example, he said. Doing the right things, being on time, coming to the field, do my work, and go out there and be ready to go every day, be prepared.You never know who might be watching so you want to do that.
But if anybody asks anything, try to help them out, give them some advice fi thats what they want. if you see somebody doing something thats maybe not the best way, maybe you just go over and have a little talk Hey, man, this or that. And I havent had to do that. Thats what great about these guys. Theres a lot of good examples in here and guys do a good job of that kind of stuff. And I think the young guys see that. They come in and they fit in and they know theyre comfortable. Nobodys trying to make them uncomfortable because I think the faster you get comfortable in the big leagues the more successful youre going to be.
Atchison is planning more rest for his elbow and himself this offseason. Some golf, a family vacation to Hawaii in December, spending time with his family. Beyond that, he is uncertain. He is arbitration eligible after the season and would like to return with the Sox.
Hopefully Im here, he said. Id like to be back here. Ive enjoyed playing here. Im comfortable here. I feel like Ive shown them what I can do. But they have control of me. So its kind of up to them on that end of it. But just get to the offseason and give everything a rest for a few months and then get ready to go for another year.