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Scott Atchison, the hero in the park

06.12.10 at 8:59 pm ET
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Scott Atchison knew the drill ‘€¦ sort of.

Atchison last lived the life of a starter in 2008 when pitching in Japan. But, as he pointed out after the Red Sox‘€™ 10-2 win over the Phillies, ‘€œIt’€™s totally different in the big leagues.’€

Atchison found out he was getting a chance to make his first major league start just 20 minutes before the start of the game, getting word that there might be something wrong with the scheduled Red Sox’€™ starter, Daisuke Matsuzaka.

‘€œI was in here dressed, 20 or 25 minutes before the game, I guess, just kind of waiting. [Bench coach] DeMarlo [Hale} came in and said, ‘Atch get your glove. Let’s go.’ I said, ‘Where we going?’ He said, ‘We need you out in the bullpen, something might be up.’ I was already dressed so it wasn’t that big a deal from that point,’€ Atchison said. ‘€œI got out in the dugout and Tito said, ‘Head out to the bullpen. We’re not exactly sure what’s going on.’ So I went out there and Dice was still throwing. I guess they called in and they were like, ‘Get going, you’re going to start this thing.’ It was kind of exciting because I’ve never started a game in the big leagues. I was able to put a ‘1’ where all the ‘0’s’ used to be in the columns.’€

The 34-year-old held his own, all things considered, going three innings, giving up two runs. Prior to Japan, Atchison’€™s experience as a starter consisted of one start with Triple A Fresno in ‘€™07, with the last regular run as a starting pitcher in the United States coming in ‘€™02 with Triple A Tacoma.

‘€œI had done it somewhat before, so I guess I knew what I was getting myself into,’€ he noted.

‘€œI had plenty of time. I’m a reliever. I probably could have waited actually a little longer, but they said ‘Get going’ and I hadn’t look at the clock. There were a thousand things running through my mind as to what was going on. I tried to treat the warm-up for the most part like I would if I was getting loose to come in and pitch an inning. I figured that was the best way to go about it.’€

It was an effort that drew a tremendous amount of appreciation from the Red Sox considering the immediacy that came with the decision following Matsuzaka’€™s ailment.

‘€œThankfully Pawtucket was in town, and we got Richardson here,’€ said Francona of Dustin Richardson, who was summoned to take Matsuzaka’€™s place on the roster. ‘€œHe didn’€™t pitch. That’€™s a lot to ask out of a bullpen. Fortunately everything about as well as it could. Atchison gives us three, which is a lot, and then everyone who came in did great.

‘€œ[Matsuzaka] threw a lot of cutters his last outing but nothing to suggest this would happen. This was all happening as he was warming up. Johnny [Farrell] had called me and said, hey, he’€™s not warming up very well. I called him back and said, ‘€˜Is this something to worry about?’€™ I said, ‘€˜Let Atchison. We don’€™t want to surprise somebody, don’€™t want to put him behind the eight-ball more than he already is. It became apparent, Johnny called back and said, ‘€˜I’€™m not comfortable with this.’€™ And I don’€™t think dice-k fought him.’€

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