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Rubby De La Rosa joins Sox bullpen for second time

08.03.13 at 5:20 pm ET
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Rubby De La Rosa has been called up to join the Red Sox bullpen for the second time this season on Saturday, giving the Sox another right-handed relief option.

Sox manager John Farrell said De La Rosa was brought up to provide a reliever who could pitch multiple innings if necessary, given the load the bullpen has carried over the last week of extra-inning wins and high-scoring games.

“This was Rubby’s fifth day. He was scheduled for a start, so we felt like we needed just to cover ourselves if we needed a guy that needed to go four or five innings,” Farrell said. “More out of just something unforeseen than anything, and an opportunity that we’ve talked about trying to get him here and see him work out of the bullpen.”

Command has been a significant issue for De La Rosa in his recent appearances. He’s walked 4.93 batters per nine innings on the year, canceling out some of the effects of his 8.69 per nine strikeout rate. In his last start at Triple-A Pawtucket, he walked four over 4 2/3 innings and gave up seven runs, six earned.

After a strong run in June, interrupted briefly by a stint in Boston, July was rough for De La Rosa: in 18 1/3 innings over six starts, he walked 17 and gave up 22 earned runs.

Farrell said that despite those issues, the Sox felt it was time for De La Rosa to get another shot at the major-league level based on his overall body of work.

“Lately, the first couple innings, first three innings of his last start were strong,” Farrell said. “And then, I’m not going to say the game got away from him, but there were some inconsistencies with overall command. ‘€¦ He’s been down there the entire year, as we know, and it felt like it was a bit – based on what he had done for the better part of the year, in addition to the calendar, it felt like it was time to get him here and take a look in this role.”

De La Rosa pitched for the Dodgers in 2011 and 2012, but he has yet to make a major-league appearance with the Sox (he was called up in June but returned to Pawtucket without pitching for the Sox). Farrell said he can see how the 24-year-old might have been frustrated by remaining in Triple-A, although De La Rosa hasn’t voiced those feelings.

“This recall wasn’t about feelings,” Farrell said. “Let’s make that, first and foremost, clear. This is a guy that’s got tremendous stuff, that fills a need that we have right now.”

The Sox have kept an eye on De La Rosa’s workload, since he had Tommy John surgery in 2011 and only began pitching again in August of 2012. Farrell said they’ve been considering not only what De La Rosa can contribute this year, but also the possibility of him moving to the Sox’ starting rotation in 2014.

“Coming into spring training, there was a pretty clear-cut plan with how we were going to increase his innings load to keep him, one, as an option in the rotation, and two, if we got to this point, is he a candidate to go to the bullpen, and having enough innings pitched that if he does finish the year as a reliever, it wouldn’t be a huge jump next year if he does go to the rotation,” Farrell said. “So it was a target number that we got close to, that if the need wasn’t prior to that here, if we got to that number, we had one of two ways in which we could go. And he’s in the pen.”

Ryan Lavarnway, who caught De La Rosa at times in Pawtucket this year, said De La Rosa’s three-pitch mix – fastball, changeup and slider – is impressive when he commands it well.

“I haven’t seen him that much, but the times that I have seen him, he’s got incredible stuff, and when he locates he’s almost unhittable,” Lavarnway said. “He’s just a young guy. He’s not too far off arm surgery. He’s just kind of working on growing up and learning who he is.”

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