BOSTON -- Scott Atchison knew as soon as he woke up the morning after his rehab outing Friday night with Triple-A Pawtucket that something was wrong with his elbow. It was more than the forearm tightness that had him on the disabled list since July 14.The right-hander had an MRI done, which revealed a tear in his elbow, and will now travel to Pensacola, Fla., to meet with Dr. James Andrews Monday morning for a second opinion.Its a matter of how severe the tear is and what my options are as far as what I do, he said. Obviously, I know a couple of them. Everybody knows Tommy Johns obviously missing a year. But see what he has to say and then go from there.Hes braced himself for the worst news, which would be that he needs Tommy John surgery.I think before the MRI even happened I was kind of prepping for the fact that I was probably, the news wasnt going to be maybe what I wanted to hear, Atchison said. But as far as for the surgery, if thats what I need and thats what we feel is the best route and the only option, then Ill do it. Ive been through a shoulder surgery. Its been 15 years but I put everything into and thats the only way I know to do something and hopefully get back and be the same guy that I was before.Atchison, who has a record of 2-1 with a 1.76 ERA in 37 games spanning 46 innings this season, said the elbow injury didnt happen on one pitch. It was more a gradual process.I cant go back to one pitch, he said. And thats kind of what the Red Sox doctor told me just going off what he was reading on the MRI it looked more like a gradual. It didn't look like something just popped right on one pitch, that it was kind of over time. Ive thrown a lot of pitches, so its understandable I guess.He essentially gave me what he felt like were three options: surgery, rest, and theres another procedure, Im not sure exactly what its about. But he recommend going ahead and seeing either Andrews or Dr. Lewis Yocum or seeing someone else. Just those guys are not that he wasnt confident in his analysis of it but hes never done Tommy John he told me. So he said, Go ahead and go. Id recommend you see one of those guys that have done obviously lots of them. Which I agree with. Go down there, lets see what they have to say and then discuss it with the Red Sox and figure out what the next step is.Atchison, who turned 36 in March, was originally drafted by the Mariners in the 36th round in 1994. He is in his third season with the Sox. Atchison wasnt really surprised to learn he had a tear in his elbow.I figured there was probably some kind of tear at this point in my career, he said. But obviously its common for evyeboyd to have a little bit of something in there, I think. Thats maybe part of the reason we didnt do the MRI right away the first time it happened. Because I was feeling better and progressed with it. And afraid if you look at something maybe youll see something and thats not the cause of the problem. But when it felt the way I did the day after I threw the other day, I thought something else might be going on because it just didnt seem the way it should for having pitched even just a little sore.Im going to kind of reserve till I hear everything on Monday. Then Ill worry about the rest of it. But its a little disappointing. But hopefully maybe theyll look at it different or maybe well do another one or whatever and see something else and theres another option or something. Well see.
Joe Kelly’s ascent to the eighth inning has been pretty darn rapid.
Tyler Thornburg’s questionable right shoulder and the loss of other relievers elsewhere -- remember Koji Uehera, now of the World Champion Cubs? -- have thrown him into the spotlight.
That doesn’t make Kelly anything close to a certainty, though.
Entering spring training, even Craig Kimbrel, one of the very best closers around, faced some doubt after control flare-ups a year ago.
In Kelly, the Sox have an overpowering righty who couldn’t harness his stuff in the past. Someone who conspired with Clay Buchholz in making the Red Sox rotation look dismal midseason.
Kelly’s ineffectiveness last year, in fact, was one of the reasons they traded for Drew Pomeranz on July 14. And, logically, one of the reasons the Red Sox did not want to subsequently rescind the trade for Pomeranz.
The last start Kelly made with the Red Sox (and possibly in his big-league career) was on June 1 against the Orioles. He allowed seven runs in 2 1/3 innings and was immediately demoted.
He didn’t make it back to Boston until late July.
The best reasons to believe in Kelly now, in Thornburg’s absence, are straightforward: he was awesome at the end of last year, and he is overpowering.
In an eye-opening September, he held hitters to a .180 average in 14 innings. He gave up one earned run, carrying a 0.64 ERA, struck out 20 and walked just three.
That’s awesome potential.
He’s always had that, if nothing else, though: potential. What’s to say Kelly lives up to it? He might. There’s just not a lot to hang your hat on.
In eight innings this spring, Kelly has as many walks, seven, as he does strikeouts.
“The point we’re trying to stress to him, no one in this game is perfect,” Sox manager John Farrell told reporters Monday, including the Boston Herald. “He doesn’t have to be perfect with every pitch located. He has premium stuff. Trust it, and get ahead in the count a little bit more frequently.”
Early in spring training, Kelly talked about how he was still learning on the job, as you’d expect. That’s going to continue to be the case, and he'll continue to have to prove he's at last arrived.
Blake Swihart wasn't going to win a job. Monday merely made that official.
Swihart was optioned out as the Red Sox made further cuts, sending a player who could still be the Red Sox catcher of the future -- well, one of them anyway -- to Triple-A Pawtucket, where he's expected to work on his receiving.
Swihart hit .325 in 40 Grapefruit League at-bats.
"Had a very strong camp and showed improvements defensively. Swung the bat very well," manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida. "For the player that he is and the person that he is, you love him as a person. He's a hell of a talented player.
"He made some subtle adjustments with his setup [defensively]. That gave him a different look to pitchers on the mound. Pitchers talked positively about the look that they got from him behind the plate. I think it softened his hands somewhat to receive the ball better. And there were a number of occasions where he was able to get a pitchers' pitch called for a strike, so the presentation of the umpire was a little bit more subtle and consistent then maybe years' past."
Sandy Leon's hot hitting in 2016 earned him an automatic crack at the lead catching spot for this year. Combined with the fact that Christian Vazquez looks great defensively, went deep on Sunday and is out of options, Swihart was the obvious odd man out.
He had options, the others didn't.
Deven Marrero was also optioned to Pawtucket. Sam Travis -- who, like Swihart, could break camp with the 2018 team -- was reassigned to minor-league camp, as was catcher Dan Butler.
The Sox have 38 players left in camp, 32 from the 40-man roster.