Red Sox pre-Game Notes: Shane Victorino back tomorrow, Edward Mujica building arm strength
|05.03.14 at 1:58 pm ET|
A stretch of three game in two days pushed Red Sox manager John Farrell to make the decision to give outfielder Shane Victorino the day off in the second game of a three-game series against the Oakland Athletics.
Farrell says that Victorino having an abbreviated Spring Training, among other factors — (on the pregame show on the Red Sox radio broadcast, the manager said Victorino “felt it a little bit” after Friday’s win) — played a role in the decision to sit him.
“Three games in two days and still looking at the shortened Spring Training, the number of games missed coming out of the start of the season,” Farrell said. “He’s available for defense or pinch hit duty later today and will be back here tomorrow.”
Since making his return to the lineup April 24 against the Yankees, Victorino has played in seven games, totaling five doubles, three RBI and nine strikeouts, totaling to a .290 average and .361 on-base percentage in 31 at-bats.
Mujica building arm strength
When the Red Sox signed reliever Edward Mujica to a two-year, $9.5 million contract this past offseason, the 29-year-old was framed into the same mold as closer Koji Uehara was just a year before, a strike-thrower with a good splitter. One month into the season, the results have not been the same for Mujica as they were for Uehara.
In 11 games this year, Mujica sports a 9.00 ERA, 2.00 WHIP with four walks and six strikeouts in 10 innings pitched. The four walks in April are only one behind his season total of five last year with the St. Louis Cardinals in 65 appearances.
Farrell said they are working on a couple of things with Mujica to try to improve the results.
“The arm strength is increasing,” Farrell said. “We’re seeing better velocities and yet, there have been a few things at play here. Arm strength is increasing. His command has been a little bit less than what it was a year ago just by the number of walks that he has issues already. We’re working to try to create a little deception in his delivery. He’s got a little bit of an open delivery that hitters are going to see the ball earlier in the flight towards home plate and trying to get where there is more consistency towards the edge of the plate rather than where he’s missed in the middle.”
Farrell said Mujica is an important part of the bullpen moving forward.
“Edward and [Craig Breslow] getting back in the mix more consistently, we’re going to need those two guys to spell other and allow for proper rest for the entire relief group,” Farrell said.
Bradley mans right field in place of Victorino
With Victorino sitting out, outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. will slide over to right field in his place. Grady Sizemore will man center field.
Farrell said the decision to play Bradley in right field more had to do with the 24-year old’s range and arm strength than Sizemore’s struggle so far this season with adjusting to playing the corner outfield spots.
“I wouldn’t center this around Grady,” Farrell said. “We’ve had the alignment to be the opposite in previous games. The arm strength of Jackie in right field is a factor in that and I still feel like right field is the most important position in this ballpark. His range lends to that.”
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