Roster moves start to clear up bullpen picture

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Roster moves start to clear up bullpen picture

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- In trimming their roster Friday, the Red Sox' bullpen picture didn't get entirely clarified, but it sure came into sharper focus.

The Sox optioned Scott Atchison and returned Rich Hill and Andrew Miller to minor league camp, thinning the list of candidates for their available bullpen spots.

The moves effectively left four pitchers -- two righties and two lefties -- in contention for the two spots: left-handers Dennys Reyes and Hideki Okajima, along with right-handers Alfredo Aceves and Matt Albers.

Hill and Miller's demotions weren't terribly surprising. Hill had been adjusting to a new delivery, one which he tweaked as recently as this week, and could use some time adjusting to his mechanics. The Sox believe Miller has great upside as a starter, but are in no hurry to rush him, especially since he is out of options.

If there was a surprise, it was the optioning of Atchison, who spent much of 2010 with the Red Sox, and by the final two months of the season, had earned Terry Francona's unending respect and trust. Resillient, versatile and durable, what hurt Atchison is likely the same factor which cost him a spot on the Opening Day roster last spring: having remaining options, allowing the Sox to summon him from -- and return him to -- Pawtucket without risk of exposing him to waivers.

Of the four remaining pitchers, the one most likely to be with the major league team on April 1 is Reyes. Reyes had an out in his contract which would have allowed him to leave camp in pursuit of another major league job if he was not added to the Sox' 40-man roster.

The Red Sox asked Reyes to push back his deadline until Saturday, giving them an additional day to consider their various choices and scenarios. It seems unlikely that Reyes will not be part of their plans, especially after his agent, Oscar Suarez, told the Providence Journal that his expectation is that Reyes will make the team.

That leaves one final spot, to be decided among Okjaima, Aceves and Albers.

Aceves has pitched well enough to warrant a spot in the bullpen, but the club might prefer him to go to Pawtucket to get stretched out as a starter, where he could have more value, given the team's lack of rotation depth.

Okajima's presence, in tandem with Reyes, would give the Red Sox two lefty relievers, providing Francona with some late-inning flexibility.

Now in his fourth year with the Red Sox, Okajima's salary is guaranteed and he has remaining options, meaning he could be sent to Pawtucket. Okajima's 2010 was his worst since joining the Red Sox, but he pitched better in September, earning a new deal.

Finally, there is Albers, who has a major league contract, but no remaining options. Albers has pitched well in Grapefruit League actions, but the Sox would be effectively locked into keeping him, since he could be claimed off waivers if the Sox tried to send him to Triple A.

As many as five teams have called to inquire about Albers, but have been unwilling to offer much of value in return.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Robbie Ross Jr. is getting elbow checked out

Robbie Ross Jr. is getting elbow checked out

BOSTON -- Red Sox reliever Robbie Ross Jr.'s tough 2017 has reached a potentially scary moment.

Expected to be the team's lead lefty out of the bullpen, Ross has twice been demoted and struggled in the majors. Now, he's on the disabled list at Triple-A Pawtucket with inflammation in his throwing elbow — a health situation that might explain why he wasn't pitching well in the big leagues.

The Red Sox expect to know more about Ross' situation later in the week.

Ross hasn't pitched in game for Pawtucket since he was most recently optioned. If the 27-year-old was indeed hurt in the majors, it's possible he could retroactivley wind up on the major league disabled list. Ross was demoted May 19, and is on the DL retroactive to May 25. 

Per BrooksBaseball.net, Ross sat at 93 mph with his fastball on May 12. He dropped down to 92 in the following appearance, and the next two outings were at 91 mph. He averaged 94 mph in 2016.

Ross had a 7.00 ERA in eight major league appearances this year, striking out nine and walking five in nine innings. He posted a 3.25 ERA in a 2016 season where he established himself as a key member of the 'pen.

Ross said he was shocked when he was demoted for the first time this year. 

Bergman, Mariners snap Red Sox' winning streak, 5-0

Bergman, Mariners snap Red Sox' winning streak, 5-0

BOSTON -- Christian Bergman's emotions shifted from frustration and anxiety to trying to block out his previous start.

When he got back on the mound, he certainly pitched relaxed.

Bergman rebounded from a rough outing with seven shutout innings and the Seattle Mariners halted Boston's season-high six-game winning streak with a 5-0 victory over the Red Sox on Sunday.

"It's a little bit of all of that," Bergman said. "You want to get back out there. That's the best way to forget about it and stuff like that, get back out there and start making good pitches."

Bergman (2-2) allowed four hits, walked two and struck out two. He got a lot of help from his infielders when they turned a double play in each of the first four innings.

"He attacked them and had the double-play ball going, which was huge," Seattle manager Scott Servais said. "I can't say enough about the effort he gave us today."

Bergman was tagged for 14 hits and 10 runs over four innings in a loss his previous start.

Robinson Cano hit a two-run homer and Guillermo Heredia a solo shot for the Mariners, who averted a three-game sweep with just their second win in nine games. Seattle was shut out the first two games.

Three relievers completed the combined five-hitter, with closer Edwin Diaz getting the final three outs despite two errors by infielders.

Rick Porcello (3-6) gave up 11 hits, but only two runs in 6 1/3 innings.

The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner has had trouble making good pitches for extended innings this season.

"It comes down to consistent location," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "Many times it's fastballs that are leaking back to the middle of the plate."

Seattle finished one off its club record for most double plays turned in a game.

After being shut out for the first 21 innings of the series, the Mariners moved ahead 1-0 in the fourth when Kyle Seager raced home from third after Porcello bounced a pitch that went over catcher Sandy Leon's right shoulder and onto the screen. Seager had doubled leading off and advanced on Danny Valencia's single.

Heredia homered over the Green Monster in the eighth and Cano sent his into the center-field bleachers an inning later.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Mariners: RHP Hisashi Iwakuma, on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation, had another bullpen session Sunday because he wasn't happy with one a day earlier.

Red Sox: Farrell said 3B Pablo Sandoval, out since late April with a sprained right knee, will stay on his rehab assignment at Triple-A Pawtucket to get his "timing going" with more at-bats.

NO TROT

Heredia sprinted around the bases after his shot.

"The home run is over with," he said via third-base coach Manny Acta being his translator. "What else is there to do but run the bases?"

TOUGH TIMES

Porcello is finding easy outs a lot tougher to get after going 22-4 with a 3.15 ERA last season.

"I mean, quick-pitch outs have not been my strength up to this point." he said. "With runners on base, obviously, you've got to find a way."

His ERA did drop from 4.35 to 4.21, though, despite all the hits.

ROSTER MOVES

Seattle sent Saturday's losing pitcher, RHP Rob Whalen, to Triple-A Tacoma and brought up RHP Ryne Harper from the same club.

The Red Sox also made moves with pitchers, sending Saturday's winner, lefty Brian Johnson, to Triple-A Pawtucket and promoting RHP Blaine Boyer.

Farrell said after the game that the Red Sox decided to keep Boyer up and send RHP Brandon Workman down to make room when ace David Price is activated.

Boyer made his Red Sox debut, retiring the only two batters he faced.

UP NEXT

Mariners: RHP Sam Gaviglio (0-1, 1.38 ERA) is set to make his third major-league start when they open a two-game series Monday at Colorado. RHP Tyler Chatwood (4-6, 4.50) is scheduled for the Rockies.

Red Sox: LHP Price makes his season debut Monday in Chicago against the White Sox after being sidelined since early spring training with a strained left elbow.