|Post-Game Notes: Red Sox 6, Orioles 0||03.20.10 at 3:43 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — The arrival of Alan Embree was noticed.
The veteran left-hander’s minor-league deal — which calls for a $500,000 salary if he is added to the major league team, and includes an April 15 opt-out — adds another presence into the mix for the spots at the back of the Red Sox bullpen. And so, the plot thickens, with Embree joining the group of left-hander Brian Shouse and right-handers Joe Nelson and Scott Atchison to make the club.
Nelson, who struck out the side while featuring an excellent changeup in the ninth inning of Saturday’s 6-0 win over the Orioles, suggested that the group did not resent the addition of a new competitor for a big league job.
“The Red Sox owe it to the people who own the team, Red Sox Nation, everybody on the team to exhaust every possible avenue,” said Nelson. “That’s their job, and that’s why they’re good at what they do. They’ll bring in a truck driver if he says he can throw 90 mph and throw a splitter. And if they check him out themselves and he can, they’ll probably keep him around for a little bit and look at him. They have to exhaust every avenue. That’s due diligence. I expect that from the organization that I’m with.
“I’m not rooting against [Scott Atchison] or [Brian Shouse] or [Embree]. We can only do what we’re capable of. In the end, the decision is going to come behind closed doors, and we’re not going to have any say in it besides what we do on the field,” he added. “We all think we’re going to pitch in the big leagues. It may not be on our timetable, because we all want to be there April 4, and that’s probably not going to happen. Pitching now, I’m trying to make the team. If I don’t make it, I want to be the first one they call.”
Nelson certainly didn’t hurt his cause on Saturday. He made a mechanical tweak to his stride during a bullpen session on Thursday (an off-day in Red Sox camp). The results were almost immediate, with Nelson finding increased life on his fastball and his swing-and-miss changeup. He punched out two left-handed hitters and one right-hander.
“I’m excited about how I threw today. I can honesty say that was the best I’ve thrown in 16 months,” said Nelson. “You have breakthroughs like this every once in a while. At my age, you usually don’t have them. They’re all used up. But I felt like I had one. … Something clicked today. Now I have a few outings to try to work on it, see if I can hone it in and get back to where I was in ’08.”
– Starter Daisuke Matsuzaka will throw two innings in a minor league camp game at 11 a.m. on Sunday.
“It will be nice to get him on that road to coming back,” said Francona.
– Alan Embree threw a bullpen session on Saturday morning. While he suggested this morning that he is nearly game ready after working out on his own in Oregon, the Red Sox will ask him to proceed in more deliberate fashion. He will throw another bullpen session in a couple of days before the Sox contemplate next steps.
“I think his enthusiasm, we don’t want to temper it, but we don’t need to rush this. I think that would be a mistake. He wants to get in a game yesterday. We’re going to try to slow that down just a bit,” said Francona. “We’d like to be in this for the long haul, not for three days from now.”
– Reliever Manny Delcarmen put up a scoreless inning after getting sick while warming up. He experienced some dizziness on the mound. In the inning, he hit 91 mph with his fastball.
– Francona praised minor leaguer Pete Hissey, who worked deep into counts and collected a pair of singles. The left-handed hitter lashed one hit to left, and another to center. He was a fourth-round pick in the 2008 draft whom the Sox signed to a $1 million bonus. After a rough first half last year in Single-A Greenville, Hissey put up huge numbers in the second half to finish the year with a line of .279/.356/.347/.703.
– The Red Sox reassigned shortstop Gil Velazquez to minor-league camp, where he will receive treatment for his injured left thumb, while pitcher Felix Doubront and catcher Mark Wagner were optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket.
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