Red Sox notebook: Tazawa working on fastball

Red Sox notebook: Tazawa working on fastball
September 6, 2013, 9:15 pm
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NEW YORK -- Reliever Junichi Tazawa needs to work on his split-finger fastball to regain his effectiveness, and pitching coach Juan Nieves believes the solution is a relatively simple one.

Tazawa was roughed up for three hits in two-thirds of an inning Thursday as the New York Yankees rallied for six runs in the seventh off the Boston bullpen. 

"The gap (in velocity) between his fastball and split is not as large as last year,'' said Nieves. "All of a sudden, he's throwing his split harder and not throwing his (fastball) as hard. The most logical (answer) is to slow the split down a little more and create more depth. It's very simple; it's almost like throwing a changeup a little slower. 

"We're in the process of that now, and mixing in his curveball and cutter more. The more rounded we can get our pitchers, the better they are, the more weapons they have. The more bullets in your gun, the better you are so you don't become predictable.''

Nieves intends to have Tazawa "play around with the grip" on the split-finger to slow it down.

"We're going to look at that a little more and see what we can come up with,'' said Nieves.

Tazawa played catch Friday and had a light work day, but Nieves was planning on working with the righthander again Saturday, hoping to begin the turnaround. 

Jacoby Ellsbury was out of the lineup after aggravating an existing right foot injury in the 10th inning of Thursday's comeback win. 

Ellsbury had fouled a ball of his foot last weekend, then jammed the same foot sliding into second base prior to scoring the winning run.     

The foot throbbed overnight and Ellsbury was held out, given treatment throughout the afternoon and night.

"Hopefully he'll be back in the lineup (Saturday),'' said John Farrell.

Clay Buchholz will rejoin the team Saturday and is expected to throw a bullpen Sunday, but the Sox aren't yet ready to announce him as the probable starter Tuesday night at Tropicana Field.

"We're just making sure that we go through every step physically,'' said Farrell, "before we make any adjustments to the rotation going forward.''

Buchholz made what was expected to be his final rehab tuneup Thursday night in Rochester for Pawtucket.

"His power was consistent,'' said Farrell, "not only (compared to) his previous outing, but when he was active with us earlier in the year. I spoke to him this afternoon and he felt good physically. It felt like with each inning that he's pitched, the increase in command and action to his secondary pitches is gaining that consistency. So he's in a pretty good place from a mental standpoint, but physically he's sound.''

Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who's missed the last four games with lower back stiffness, will likely return to the lineup Saturday afternoon.

"After the work he went through today -- early BP, he threw and didn't feel restrictions in any way,' said Farrell. "So that's the most important thing at this point. (Saturday) is a real possibility that he'll be in the lineup. He's going through additional treatment here (tonight).

"Going forward, if he's able to go back-to-back maybe by the middle or later part of next week...we'll respond to how he comes out of each game.''