Red Sox pitcher Clayton Mortensen ‘pissed’ at ‘damn Yankees’
|03.23.12 at 1:31 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Thursday night’s game between the Red Sox and Yankees ended in unusual fashion, with Joe Girardi‘s squad walking off the field in the top of the 10th inning of a 4-4 tie at a time when Red Sox pitcher Clayton Mortensen was standing on the mound and ready to pitch.
Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine described the Yankees’ decision to leave, at a time when they still seemed to have available pitchers, as “not very courteous,” though today in Sarasota, Fla., he suggested that he wasn’t as upset with the Yankees as Mortensen.
He was right.
Mortensen had appeared in just three Grapefruit League games this spring, tossing six scoreless innings while striking out seven and walking two. He had last appeared in a game on March 17, and so when the Red Sox scored four runs in the eighth and ninth innings and Mortensen was preparing to enter the game, he was eager for the chance to perform in front of Red Sox decision makers.
That being the case, when the Yankees filed off the field, Mortensen was …
“I was pretty pissed, actually,” said Mortensen. “I finally get my chance to get into an inning, something that I believe my role would kind of be — late innings, tie ballgame, come in against the Yankees — I was all fired up, ready to go. I was talking with [catcher Ryan Lavarnway on the mound], ‘Let’s do this sign with a runner on second,’ and all of a sudden it was, ‘Game’s over, dude.’
“I was like, ‘What?!’ I wasn’t happy. I thought it was funny that they said they were out of pitching. Well, you’re not pitching. You don’t want to hit?
“It’s just funny that it just happens to be the Yankees. It starts up the whole thing already. Whatever. I just wanted to get in and pitch. Sitting in the bullpen, we tied it up and I said, ‘Sweet – I get to go in there and throw an inning,’ and then the game’s over before I know it. What just happened?”
For a player like Mortensen, on the 40-man roster but a lower priority pitcher than the ones whom the Sox must consider for the Opening Day roster, the lost opportunity to pitch was particularly frustrating.
“It’s my chance to show them I can kind of do it. Then my chance gets taken away by the damn Yankees,” said Mortensen. “People always say that in baseball you always see something new every year. There’s something new for you. I’ve never seen that one. Oh well.”
Mortensen was cut on Friday morning, optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket (shortly after discussing his non-appearance against the Yankees). Coming off a 2011 season in which he had the best major league performance of his career (2-4, 3.86 ERA in 16 games with the Rockies) and his worst performance in the minors (2-8, 9.42 in 64 Triple-A innings), the right-hander — who was acquired from Colorado in the Marco Scutaro deal — said that he’s been pleased with what he has accomplished this spring in Sox camp.
“I felt like my work I’ve been putting in has been really good. I feel good about where I’m at now,” Mortensen said, feeling that his sinker, changeup and slider have been sharp this spring. “I feel like I’m pretty close to where I want to be.”
However, he did not get his desired last chance to show that form against the Yankees.
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