Weiland to make debut on Sunday

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Weiland to make debut on Sunday

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON The Red Sox have announced a starter for Sundays game against the Orioles to take the place of Jon Lester who was placed on the disabled list July 6 with a left latissimus strain.

Right-hander Kyle Weiland will make his major league debut in the first-half finale. Weiland is 8-6 with a 3.00 ERA in 17 starts for Triple-A Pawtucket this season, allowing two or fewer runs in 14 of his starts. In his last 10 starts, he is 6-2 with a 2.33 ERA. He has 99 strikeouts against 37 walks in 93 innings for a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 2.68 and a strikeouts-per-nine innings ratio of 9.6.

Its his day to start, said manager Terry Francona. Hes lined up for it. Hes really been doing well. So as much as its kind of gone wrong with some Health, this is the flip side, where its really exciting. Im kind of looking forward to it.

Weiland, 24, was taken in the third round of the 2008 draft out of Notre Dame, the Sox fifth overall pick that year. He was in big league camp this spring, appearing in four games.

He came to camp this spring, which is good, Francona said. Now that its time to pitch he won't be introducing himself to everybody. Im sure hell have butterflies and be nervous but guys know who he is, our catchers have caught him. I believe he went through the rookie development program and thats good, too. But hes throwing the ball really well. Hes missing a lot of bats, come up with a cutter along with his breaking ball and fastball. Hes having a lot of success there.

Im not surprised by his strikeout numbers. He throws hard. Hes got a live arm. He always has. But starting to command and I think hes competing and just starting to mature as a pitcher. That happens. Sometimes its at different rates but hes always had a good arm.

Alfredo Aceves, who pitched two scoreless innings in Thursdays win over the Os, was another candidate to make the start on Sunday.

We certainly could have, Francona said. But the way our bullpen is situated he gives us such a luxury of pitching short, pitching long. Again, he may start again some time, but, again, this kids Weiland lined up and Hes been pretty hot. Wed like to send him out there and see how he does.

Weiland is not on the 40-man roster. The Sox will have to make a corresponding move when they add him to the roster.

Yamaico Navarro is making his first start in the outfield, playing left, batting ninth. Navarro began playing the outfield in the minors for the first time this season, playing three games in left, one in center, and eight in right field for the PawSox.

We saw him run balls down this spring, like in BP, Francona said. A lot of guys do do it but it seemed like as an organization we thought, Wait a minute. Maybe we ought to think about doing this. We wanted him to get his feet on the ground in Triple A first. He started out hitting real well, then he got hurt. Then they moved him to both left and rightmore left than right. they say hes been really good. Hes got a good clock defensively, like when the balls hit to him at short and thirdIm sure it helps to have an arm like that, but you never see him rush. Hes got a real good idea, real good awareness of where the runner is. It seems like thats kind of translated out to the outfield also.

Hes a kind of hard guy to assess He doesnt speak a ton of English and I dont know how comfortable he is right now at an early part of his career here opening up too much. Last year when he got going he swung at everything in sight. He was nervous or too aggressive and hes kind of harnessed that a little bit because if he does, hes got great bat speed, a little bit like Josh Reddick. That ball comes off his bat pretty special.

Playing in front of the Green Monster for the first time can be somewhat intimidating for any player, especially for a young player. Francona has limited concern.

Its his first time but hes a really good athlete, Francona said. So no more than anybody else.

Dustin Pedroia launched for a three-run homer in the third inning Thursday night, on a 3-1 pitch well above the strike zone. Asked if Pedroia is one of the better bad-ball hitters, Francona replied:

Well, you're looking at a guy across the field in Vlad Guerrero, he takes that to a whole new level. Theres not a pitch you throw him he doesnt think he can hit. Unfortunately, sometimes he does. Pedey, its funny because his first at-bat, first inning, guy was having trouble throwing strikes, Pedey had 2-0, swung at a high fastball and popped it up and he was mad. But it was like thats the pitch he hits when hes looking for it. And then his next time up its like the same pitch but maybe even higher and he hits it a mile.

Asked if he thought Pedroia was being more selective at the plate this season, Francona replied:

No, I actually think he hasnt. But I just think hes working the counts real well and then he gets to two strikes and hes laying off that pitch. His approach to me seems pretty similar. He says its because Gonzies not giving him any protection.

Yes, that last line was said with tongue in cheek.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Hernandez has chance at Red Sox opening day roster after Rutledge injury

Hernandez has chance at Red Sox opening day roster after Rutledge injury

Infielder Marco Hernandez may make the Red Sox roster after all.

Fellow infielder Josh Rutledge, the presumptive 25th man on the Red Sox, suffered a left hamstring strain on Tuesday against the Pirates, according to reporters in Florida, including Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald.

If Rutledge isn’t ready for opening day, Hernandez, a left-handed hitter, may have his crack. 

The question is whether the Sox would be comfortable without a right-handed bat to complement both Pablo Sandoval and Mitch Moreland on the corners. Rutledge was going to give the Sox that right-handed look they sought. (When Hanley Ramirez's shoulder will be healthy enough to play first base is unclear, but isn't expected to be too long.)

Neither Rutledge nor Hernandez has played first base in the majors or minors.

A big-league rookie last year, Hernandez has done decently against lefties at the upper levels of the minors, hitting .328 vs. them at Triple-A Pawtucket last season in 67 at-bats. He hit .315 in 54 at-bats at Pawtucket, with a .318 average against them that season in 88 at-bats for Double-A Portland.

Rutledge is a Rule 5 draft pick who has to remain on the major league 25-man roster the whole season or the Sox risk losing him. Placement on the disabled list doesn’t affect his status unless he’s on the disabled list for a very lengthy time.

An alternative option is Steve Selsky, who has first-base experience, but he's already been optioned.

Farrell defends Sox' shoulder program, but he first raised the issue

Farrell defends Sox' shoulder program, but he first raised the issue

Red Sox manager John Farrell didn’t scream “fake news" on Tuesday,  but he might as well have.

The only problem is he seems to be forgetting his own words, and his reliever’s.

Righty Tyler Thornburg is starting his Red Sox career on the disabled list because of a shoulder impingement. 

Another Dave Dombrowski pitching acquisition, another trip to the disabled list. Ho hum.

But the reason Thornburg is hurt, Farrell said, has nothing to do with the Red Sox’ shoulder program -- the same program Farrell referenced when talking about Thornburg earlier this month.

“There’s been a lot written targeting our shoulder program here,” Farrell told reporters on Tuesday, including the Providence Journal’s Tim Britton. “I would discount that completely. He came into camp, he was throwing the ball extremely well, makes two appearances. They were two lengthy innings in which inflammation flared up to the point of shutting him down. But in the early work in spring training, he was throwing the ball outstanding. So to suggest that his situation or his symptoms are now the result of our shoulder program, that’s false.”

Let’s go back to March 10, when Farrell was asked in his usual pregame session with reporters about Thornburg’s status.

"He is throwing long-toss out to 120 feet today," Farrell said that day. “He’s also been going through a strength and conditioning phase, arm-wise. What we encounter with guys coming from other organizations, and whether it's Rick [Porcello], David [Price], guys that come in, and they go through our shoulder maintenance program, there's a period of adaptation they go through, and Tyler’s going through that right now. We're also going to get him on the mound and get some fundamental work with his delivery and just timing, and that's soon to come in the coming days. Right now it's long toss out to 120 feet.”

So Farrell volunteered, after Thornburg was taken out of game action, that the shoulder program appeared involved. 

Maybe that turned out not to be the case. But Farrell's the one who put this idea out there.

On March 11, Farrell was asked to elaborate about other pitchers who needed adjusting to how the Red Sox do their shoulder program.

“Rick Porcello is an example of that. Joe Kelly,” Farrell said. “And that's not to say that our program is the end-all, be-all, or the model for which everyone should be compared. That's just to say that what we do here might be a little more in-depth based on a conversation with the pitchers, that what they've experienced and what we ask them to do here. And large in part, it's with manual resistance movements on the training table. These are things that are not maybe administered elsewhere, so the body goes through some adaptation to get to that point. 

“So, in other words, a pitcher that might come in here previously, he pitched, he’s got recovery time and he goes and pitches again. There's a lot of work and exercise in between the outings that they may feel a little fatigued early on. But once they get those patterns, and that consistent work, the body adapts to it and their recovery times become much shorter. And it's one of the reasons we've had so much success keeping pitchers healthy and on the field.”

Except that Kelly has had a shoulder impingement in his time with the Red Sox, last April, and so too now does Thornburg.

In quotes that appeared in a March 12 story, Thornburg himself told the Herald’s Michael Silverman that he didn’t understand the Red Sox throwing program.

Thornburg said that after the December trade, he was sent a list of exercises from the training staff. The message he did not receive was that all of the exercises were to be performed daily.

“I kind of figured that this is a list of the exercises they incorporated, I didn’t think this is what they do all in one day,” said Thornburg. “I thought, ‘here’s a list of exercises, learn them, pick five or six of them,’ because that was pretty much what we did in Milwaukee.”

But according to Farrell, Thornburg’s current state has nothing to do with the program -- the same one Farrell himself cited when directly asked about Thornburg before.

Maybe the program was the wrong thing to point to originally. But Farrell did point to it.

"This is all still in line with the shoulder fatigue, the shoudler impingement and the subsequent inflammation that he's dealing with. That’s the best I can tell you at this point," Farrell said Tuesday. "Anytime a player, and we've had a number of players come in, when you come into a new organization, there's a period where guys adapt. Could it have been different from what he's done in the past? Sure. But to say it's the root cause, that’s a little false. That’s a lot false, and very short-sighted."

Hey, he started it.

Thornburg is not to throw for a week before a re-evaluation.