|Matt Albers, still with Red Sox, battling for a spot||03.24.11 at 10:47 am ET|
JUPITER, Fla. — Matt Albers, who was the subject of a report Wednesday stating that he had been released in order to sign in Japan, said prior to the Red Sox’ game against the Marlins that he has no plans to execute such a career change and is still focused on making the Sox.
“I got a text from one of my friends, just kind of random. I was like, ‘Really?’ He told me the website. I went to it. It said [Albers had] been released and they let him go to Japan. That’s news to me,” said Albers. “I just kind of called my agent, said, ‘Did you hear about this?’ He said, ‘Yeah, don’t worry about it.’”
“I don’t know where that came from,” he added. “I didn’t really think much of it, obviously. I knew that I hadn’t talked to any Japanese teams. Obviously, with the situation going on there, I don’t think too many people have.”
Albers is scheduled to pitch Thursday afternoon. He has allowed two runs on eight hits over 10 innings, striking out 11 and not walking a batter this spring. In so doing, he has fulfilled some of his primary goals entering the spring, namely using his curveball, slider and bread-and-butter sinker to both sides of the plate while being more aggressive in getting ahead in counts.
“Walks have hurt me in the past,” said Albers. “So I just want to make sure I go out there, get ahead in the count, throw lots of strikes, trust my stuff. For the most part, I think I’ve been able to do that.”
Albers is among the group of pitchers on the bubble for one of the final bullpen spots on the Sox roster. He is out of options, meaning that if the Sox wanted to send him to the minors, they would first have to subject the right-hander to waivers. Manager Terry Francona said that Albers has been “great” this spring, and did acknowledge that the possibility of losing a pitcher on waivers would play into the decision-making process with the final spots on the big league roster.
“We certainly have to think about that. If I said we didn’t, that would probably be a flat-out lie,” said Francona. “You’ve got to be cognizant of it.”
Albers acknowledged that he is eager to see what happens to him in the coming week. By April 1, he could either be on the Red Sox’ major league roster, with another team (if he is traded or gets claimed on waivers) or in the minors with the Sox.
“I’ve been in this situation the last three years in Baltimore where I haven’t found out that I made the team until camp ended. I knew that was going to be the situation. I’ve kind of been through it a few times so I kind of know what to expect a little bit,” said Albers. “It’s kind of wait and see what happens. I try not to worry about it too much. Definitely a decision is going to come down in the next week or so. But, just go out there and try to pitch.”
While the whereabouts of his start to the season remain unknown, one thing appears certain. Albers will be doing his pitching in North America, and not in Japan.
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