By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
PITTSBURGH Scott Atchison knows the drill. Hes done this many times before three times already this season alone.
After starting the season with Triple-A Pawtucket he was pressed into duty, making the Opening Day start for the PawSox when Alfredo Aceves was called up to the Red Sox Atchison is now in his third stint with the Red Sox after getting called up Friday when Michael Bowden was sent back down.
He has appeared in seven games, spanning 13 13 innings for the Sox this season.
He was first called up on May 5 and went a career-high 3 23 innings, throwing 67 pitches, as the Sox lost, 11-0, to the Angels. In all, he has allowed just two walks and 17 hits with nine strikeouts and seven earned runs for a 4.73 ERA with one save. Last season, Atchison and Daniel Bard offered the only measure of consistency in a bullpen that was better than just Baltimores and Kansas Citys in the American League.
The trips up and down I-95 between Boston and Pawtucket have not fazed Atchison.
Hes a pro, said manager Terry Francona. We call him and say Atch and he goes I know. Hes that guy that has that option. It helps save our staff but its not the best for him. We recognize that. Saying that, we love him. He knows that. We think he can pitch. Just, unfortunately, sometimes when guys have options, thats the way. It happened to Youk. That will go away.
Atchison knew coming into the season what it would be like.
Its kind of the same situation as last year a little bit, he said.
Obviously, I feel like Im throwing the ball pretty well. Ive had to go a little longer in games up here a few times, just trying to keep guys from being used. But its been a good year so far. Obviously, you always want to spend more time in the big leagues but hopefully thats coming.
Because hes made the trips back and forth so many times, settling in at each destination is easy.
It hasnt been too tough, he said. Usually its harder when you come up to the big leagues, especially if you dont necessarily know everybody. But I played with pretty much everybody last year, and played pretty much the whole year, and then through spring and the multiple times I came up this year. Each time I come up here its pretty easy to kind of just fit back in. Everybody knows me and I know them, too. So Im very comfortable coming in, which makes it much easier to go out and perform the more comfortable you are. But obviously you always want to be in one place, and it would be the big leagues. But if thats not the case, this is an easy situation to come into.
At 35, Atchison is on the older side to be making the frequent trips up and down. But it also makes it easier to understand the reasons.
I think maybe as a younger guy youre worrying about it so much more, going. Oh my God, am I ever going to get back? This is so tough' or 'Why is it me? or whatever the case may be, he said.
And now I just kind of take it. I know the situation. So, when I go to Triple A I just try to get back in the groove and throw. They run me out there pretty regularly, and try to just stay hot and stay sharp. So that when it comes its easy to come back up an get back in. When I come up here I just try to do my job and just hope that Im going to stick. But I know the situation so its easy to handle."
He also knows that because he still has options available (this is his last season with options), he is the easy choice to send down. It can be a mixed blessing.
"You never know if theyre having to send you through waivers if you get claimed and maybe you dont get claimed, you never know, Atchison said. Its kind of a stability thing to some extent where I know, I feel like Im going to be with Boston one way or another, there or here. And I enjoy this organization. So its not like I want to get out of here by any means. So, it can help and it can hurt. But it makes it easier for them to send me down knowing that they dont run the risk of losing me or whatever the case may be. But then at times, youre kind of like, Man, I wish I didnt have one so maybe I could stick up here easier. But, try not to think about that too much and just go out and throw.
Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen