By Maureen Mullen
BOSTON -- After throwing 3 23 innings and 67 pitches yesterday against the Angels, right-hander Scott Atchison would likely be unavailable to pitch again for a few days, which is why he left the Red Sox clubhouse after the game with his Pawtucket Red Sox equipment bag. Right-hander Alfredo Aceves will be called up from Pawtucket today to take his placing working out of the bullpen.
But, Atchison will also be unavailable to the PawSox for several days, not only because of his Thursday outing, but because of a little-known technical rule.
Despite the fact that Atchison still has options remaining, he cannot immediately be optioned back to Pawtucket. Any player who made his big league debut more than three years before and still has options remaining must first clear optional waivers before he can be optioned back to a minor league team. Atchison made his debut July 31, 2004. Waivers take between two to four days to secure. Once he clears waivers, he can be optioned back to Pawtucket, likely early next week.
To make room for Aceves on the 25-man roster, Atchison must be designated. When Atchison is designated, he will also be taken off the 40-man roster, temporarily opening a spot there. Assuming he is optioned back to Pawtucket, he will be added back to the 40-man.
Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen.
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.
Righty Tyler Thornburg seems a guarantee to join David Price on the disabled list to start the season.
Thornburg, the biggest acquisition Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski made for the bullpen this winter, was scratched Monday because of a spasm in his upper right trapezius — not a great sign for a pitcher who already had throwing shoulder issues this spring.
Sox manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida the spasm was “not shoulder related.” But the trap, a large muscle along the neck and back, does extend to the shoulder blade.
Dombrowski told reporters it is most likely that Thornburg starts the year on the disabled list. More is expected to be known Tuesday, possibly after an MRI.
Robby Scott could be a replacement for Thornburg. If so, the Sox would likely have three lefties in the bullpen, along with Fernando Abad and Robbie Ross Jr.
"Possibly. Possibly," Dombrowski said of Scott. “We still have to make those decisions. But possibly.”
Dombrowski didn’t indicate a desire to go outside the organization for now.
Thornburg had barely enough time to get ready for Opening Day prior to Monday’s setback. If he indeed starts the season on the DL, Joe Kelly would be the eighth-inning reliever for the Sox — a role Kelly was headed for anyway given Thornburg’s shaky spring.
Thornburg, 28, had a 2.15 ERA last season for the Brewers. The Sox picked him up at the winter meetings in a deal that sent Travis Shaw and prospects to the Milwaukee Brewers.