Drellich: Red Sox take boring, but needed, step with Steven Wright and Drew Pomeranz
FORT MYERS — This is the week where spring training becomes exceedingly boring.
Everyone’s at JetBlue Park, everyone’s taken the field. The freshness of just seeing baseball is gone — even though we haven’t actually seen baseball. Games are still a couple days away.
So here’s the de facto excitement from Monday: Chris Sale threw to hitters in his first live batting practice session. (As opposed to throwing a dead batting practice session, of course.)
There’s not much more to say about him. If the lefty comes in Tuesday in a sling, we’ll let you know.
“Mostly fastball-changeup,” Sale said of his 30 pitches. “I threw three breaking balls. You know, that’s usually the last one that I try to incorporate.”
But there was actually something genuinely important Monday. Probably the most important action for the Red Sox that you’ll find this spring.
Steven Wright and Drew Pomeranz threw off a mound for the first time. They didn’t walk off the mound in pain and said they felt good.
Boring, but meaningful. That’s a wash-rinse-repeat process that the Sox need to continue.
Wright and Pomeranz should round out the rotation behind the big three of Sale, David Price and Rick Porcello.
Both were All-Stars in 2016. But both also have health concerns that stretch to last year: Wright in his right shoulder, Pomeranz in his left forearm and elbow area.
“Encouraging. I thought Steven Wright today was unrestricted,” manager John Farrell said. “He was out over his front side with good extension. He was able to throw both his fastball and knuckleball today. He didn’t speak of any lingering issues with his shoulder. A very productive and positive day for Steven.
“Drew got through a bullpen controlled. Both were in the 25-pitch range. A good day for both guys and it’s good to see them start to get back into their rotation.”
Farrell didn’t speak as glowingly about Pomeranz, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. The pitchers themselves were upbeat.
“It’s just about strengthening now,” Wright said. “It’s my first one. I don’t want to get too high or too low off it. I’ve just got to build off it and go forward. Right now, it’s my release point. Adding that slope, I’ve got to work on my mechanics a little bit, but in the end I’m just trying to get that ball to come out as good as it can and then build off that.”
Wright was hurt diving into second base as a pinch-runner in August. He explained Monday that the muscle that was hurt was his supraspinatus, which is part of the rotator cuff.
“I guess that’s common for when people dive,” Wright said. “A lot of outfielders get it, football players get it from that. Basically your shoulder jams up. They said it’s pretty consistent with injuries for guys who have done something similar to that.”
Pomeranz, meanwhile, had a stem cell shot in his forearm in the offseason, to help heal the flexor tendon.
“It was pretty painful to be honest,” Pomeranz said of the shot. “I heard (platelet rich plasma injections are) pretty painful too. The way they do it is they kind of scrape the tendon, the flexor, to create some bleeding I guess and then they shoot the stem cells on top, so I guess your body knows to heal there.
“I was fine five minutes into it, then about 20 minutes later I couldn’t bend my arm for like five days. I’ve heard some guys say PRP it’s like that for a few weeks, mine wasn’t that bad, probably just like five or six days.”
The shot’s in the past. But when you’re talking about shoulders and elbows, you’re talking about scary stuff for pitchers.
There’s a reason the Red Sox dipped into the Mexican League to sign 28-year-old Hector Velazquez, whose deal is still pending all the medicals.
It’s because they need as much pitching insurance as they can get. Velazquez is a rarity: a free agent who may have some modicum of polish, considering he’s 28, and he has minor league options.
“I think the biggest thing is people are healthy, getting in shape,” Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said Monday.
For now, that appears true with Wright and Pomeranz. But every time they simply throw off the mound, it’s going to be an event of significance for the Sox.
Wright was throwing mostly fastballs Monday, not the knuckleball. There’s a long way to go.
A really boring, but important, long way to go.