By Maureen Mullen
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Alfredo Aceves isn’t interested in talking about why the Yankees chose not to bring him back this season. That’s in the past, he says. But credit a strained lower back, which kept him on the disabled list from May 12 on last season, and an offseason bicycle accident for helping to get him to the Red Sox.
The Yankees were concerned he wouldn’t be healthy. After making his first Opening Day roster in 2010, he threw 12 innings over 10 appearances with a 3.00 ERA and one save before hitting the DL. Aceves, who turned 29 in December, attempted a rehab assignment with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Double-A Trenton starting Aug. 10, making seven appearances, five starts, before being shut down Aug. 30 for the rest of the season.
Aceves says his back is fine. And his left [non-throwing] collarbone, broken in the late November bike accident, is good, too.
For that, he credits Juan, “un buen Samaritano,” in San Luis, Sonora, Mexico, his hometown.
“Biking is not easy and I’m not a professional biker,” he said. “I was training a couple of days and then the sixth day, I went off the road. It was so small, so narrow, and it was downhill on the sides. There was earth and pavement. I hit the pavement. With the speed I was pedaling, I went off the road. I had my feet on the pedals because I was clicked in with the special shoes and I couldn’t get them off, and my hands were gripping the handlebars. But I just hit the pavement, with the weight and the speed and gravity. I was by myself, four kilometers [about 2.4 miles] from the town, because it was a road out of town, a little circuit.”
Aceves didn’t realize immediately the bone was broken.
“No, I felt it in my shoulder and my elbow,” he said. “But it wasn’t there. I was just feeling it there. And I lifted my arm up above my head, and then to the sides, and then down, and I thought everything was good. But then I touched it and I could feel the bone sticking up through my clothes. But, it wasn’t through my skin.
“So I got back to the road, I walked about 60 steps, and start to [thumb], and someone stopped after a few cars. Juan, he drove me to the hospital. I put my bike in his truck.
“I said, ‘Hey, man, thank you. I have to go to the hospital, to the emergency.’ ”
Aceves had surgery in New York in November to repair the break, and the shoulder feels fine now, he said, stronger. His back feels good, too. He doesn’t think about it.
While he would prefer to start, he knows what his role would be with the Red Sox.
“Long reliever and some starts,” he said. “I want to start, but I have a possibility to win a World Series this year. We got [left fielder Carl] Crawford, a very talented guy, humble guy, very good person. [First baseman] Adrian Gonzalez, nice friend, and he inspires me.”
Asked how he’d pitch each of the Sox newcomers, Aceves laughed.
“Gonzalez, he hit me for a homer in [the Mexican Pacific League], with Mazatlan, Los Venados, 'the Deers' in English, the Deers of Mazatlan,” he said. “And ours was the Tomato [Pickers] of Culiacan. I pitched against him, I struck him out once, I think. I think he hit the home run first and then I struck him out. And Crawford he got me one time, but not a homer.”
Actually, he’s gotten the best of Crawford in the major leagues, facing him three times and striking him out each time.
Aceves is impressed with the potential of the Sox pen.
“Woo, it’s a tough bullpen,” he said. “I like it. We could shut down teams. And [we have] different types of pitchers. I just want to help the team.
“I can throw whatever. I have the preference to start, but I can pitch whatever.”
Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http://twitter.com/maureenamullen