Red Sox acquire C Michael McKenry from Colorado

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Red Sox acquire C Michael McKenry from Colorado

First it was on, then it was off. But in the end, the Red Sox did indeed acquire catcher Michael McKenry from the Colorado Rockies for right-handed pitcher Daniel Turpen.

News of the deal was broken by the New York Post Tuesday afternoon, then immediately denied by the Red Sox. But Tuesday night, shortly after 8 p.m., the club announced the move.

To make room on the 40-man roster, the club designated catcher Mark Wagner for assignment.

McKenry, 26, spent the 2010 season with Colorados Triple-A Colorado Springs club before making his big-league debut in September, appearing in six games overall with the Rockies and making one start at catcher.

With Colorado Springs, he hit .265 (92-for-347) with 23 doubles, 1 triple, 10 home runs and 49 RBI in 99 games. McKenrys 94 games behind the plate tied for the most in the Pacific Coast League and he led league backstops with 691 total chances, 624 putouts and 60 assists. He threw out 23 of 80 attempted base stealers (29 percent), fifth among PCL leaders.

McKenry owns a .265 average (465-for-1758) with 127 doubles, 66 home runs, 287 RBI, 262 runs and 229 walks in 491 career minor-league games. He hit two home runs and collected four RBI in 11 spring training games with the Rockies this year.

Turpen, 24, was acquired by the Red Sox from San Francisco last season, then picked by the Yankees in December's Rule 5 draft. Rule 5 players are required to spend the entire season on the major-league roster or be returned to the team from which they were drafted, and the Sox got Turpen back from the Yanks on March 13.

He had a combined 7-6 record with four saves and a 4.30 ERA (33 ER69.0 IP) in 49 relief appearances between Double-A Richmond and Double-A Portland, including a 2-1 mark with three saves and a 4.91 ERA (10 ER18.1 IP) in 12 outings with Portland after he was traded to the Red Sox on July 31 for right-hander Ramon Ramirez.

Kyle Kendrick will end up in rotation eventually

Kyle Kendrick will end up in rotation eventually

The Red Sox rotation appears set before their bullpen does, which is surprising given how many health questions developed with the starters over the course of the spring.

Kyle Kendrick, a minor league free agent signed over the winter, was reassigned on Tuesday -- cut from big league camp and sent to Triple-A Pawtucket. That doesn’t mean he can’t make the Red Sox if something goes wrong with Drew Pomeranz (or anyone else) between now and the regular season. 

But it’s a clear suggestion that the Red Sox have enough confidence in Pomeranz’s health that they see Kendrick beginning the year at Pawtucket.

“Any time you have something invasive, you're always kind of taking a wait-and-see approach,” Sox manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida about Pomeranz. “I even mentioned to Dave [Dombrowski], I said, 'When's he getting through this,' I said, 'let's not even pay attention to the first three starts. Because he's going to go through some things where he's going to build up. He's going to probably get over some mental hurdles of wondering how's it going to feel, can I turn it loose? The delivery's going to have to be in sync like every other pitcher in spring training.' 

“And you know what? The last couple innings in start 3, it started to click a little bit more regularly for him. No pitcher's ever completely out of the woods, just based on the position, but you know what, he's making satisfactory steps toward the first start of the year.”

Kendrick might have to wait a little bit, but he should be the first man up if the Red Sox need a starting pitcher for more than, say, one spot start. He's to hang around the big league team at least through Thursday, when he has a start against the Nationals, his seventh spring start.

A 32-year-old righty who would make $1 million in a full season in the big leagues, Kendrick scrapped his four-seam heavy approach this year and is going back to the sinker-ball ways that made him successful in his time with the Phillies. He’s had throwing shoulder issues in the past, but has said all spring he’s healthy. That showed with 26 strikeouts and a 2.17 ERA in 29 Grapefruit League innings.

He'll be around soon enough if he keeps it up at Triple-A Pawtucket.

The tricky thing with Kendrick is that once he’s on the big league roster, he can’t be sent back down to the minors without passing through waivers, meaning the Red Sox would risk losing him. 

So, if it’s just one spot start that’s needed, a guy like lefty Brian Johnson, who has options and is already on the 40-man roster, probably gets the nod over Kendrick. But any injury that leaves more of an unknown in recovery time, and Kendrick should have his crack.

Outfielder and first baseman Steve Selsky was optioned after Monday’s game. Add in Kendrick’s cut on Tuesday and the Sox have 36 technically remaining in big league camp, 31 from the 40-man roster.

Kelly's a potential weapon in the Red Sox bullpen

Kelly's a potential weapon in the Red Sox bullpen

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.