Boof Bosner gets ready to start over
|03.02.10 at 9:33 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Boof Bonser has experienced change before.
The 28-year-old is in his first spring training with the Red Sox after being traded by the Twins in exchange for minor league reliever Chris Province in December. As he goes through the early paces of life in a new organization, he is able to draw upon the experience in 2003-04. On Nov. 14, 2003, he was traded by the Giants to Minnesota in a trade that has been reviewed countless times over the last six years. In exchange for catcher A.J. Pierzynski — whom the Twins were looking to dump to clear payroll — the Giants gave up Bonser, four-time All-Star Joe Nathan and former All-Star Francisco Liriano.
The trade appeared to be one of the most lopsided in baseball history when Liriano had a meteoric big league debut in 2006, making the All-Star team en route to a 2.16 ERA. Since then, however, the former phenom has struggled to regain his form while recovering from Tommy John surgery. Still, Nathan has offered the Twins a closer who has performed as one of the best in the game for several years, and it seems safe to suggest that the Giants would rather not have made the deal.
Bonser was reminded of the trade with some frequency while with the Twins. Reporters would approach him and Nathan (who lockered next to each other) to inquire about the deal.
“It is cool [to have been part of such a memorable deal], definitely,” said Bonser. “We just kind of laughed about how reporters would always come up and say, ‘Do you realize you were part of one of the best trades?’ That was about it. There was nothing really said amongst us.”
Still, Bonser is now in position to try to draw on the experience of that deal. That was the only other time that he has changed organizations. Now, he is adjusting to life on the other side of Fort Myers following his move from the Twins to the Sox.
“It was another organization I was going to, and it was almost like starting over again [with the Twins],” said Bonser. “It’s sort of like here, I came over here. It’s starting over again.”
Bonser will have the opportunity to do just that on Wednesday night. He will start the second game of the Sox’ day-night doubleheader, taking the mound against Boston College. The former first-round selection admits that he has “no idea” what to expect about how his pitches will come back as he returns from labrum surgery that wiped out his 2009 campaign. That being the case, he admitted that he is excited and curious to see what he will bring to the mound against BC.
“I think it’s going to be different [from pitching in instructional league in the fall], because a) it’s a new organization and b) it’s spring training. Last year, I was leaving the season. Now, I’m going to get going again,” said Bonser. “It’s my first surgery, obviously. I’m trying to learn as I go along what comes back, how this all works out. … I’ll find out tomorrow.”
Bonser said that he has felt comfortable on the mound, though he is working to iron out the usual spring mechanical kinks. Even so, he is waiting for games to give him an indication about how hitters will react to his stuff. That process begins on Wednesday, as he takes the mound as a starter.
For now, Bonser — who has a career 5.12 ERA, with a 4.12 mark as a starter and 6.38 ERA as a reliever — is being prepared as a starter to lengthen him out. More likely, his ticket to a roster spot with the Sox would come as a reliever, a role in which his fastball velocity has played up in the past, the adrenaline of entering mid-game elevating his strikeout numbers to 9.5 per nine innings.
“I think [the adrenaline] might be a little too much at times [as a reliever], but it’s there,” said Bonser. “Too much means I can get over-amped at times,” resulting in diminished command and feel for his pitches.
That, however, is a concern for down the road. For now, Bonser is simply looking forward to the act of gearing up for a season and getting a sense of what his arm, now healthy, can do in game situations.
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