FORT MYERS, Fla. – For much of spring training, it was believed the final spot on the Red Sox roster – the ‘Carl Crawford spot’ – would go to a position player, with Jason Repko, Pedro Ciriaco and Nate Spears among those vying for the spot.
But with the news Sunday of Andrew Bailey’s thumb issue, that may change. The spot may go to an extra 13th pitcher.
But manager Bobby Valentine is not ready to make a decision yet.
“That’s been part of the conversation,” said manager Bobby Valentine. “I’m really going to let this thing breath. As weird as it is to a lot of the players on the team, [and] the last thing I ever want to do is make it any less comfortable than it has to be, everyone I think understands the situation . . .
“We’re going to leave here [after Monday’s game] and go to Washington, [D.C., for Tuesday’s exhibition] and probably make the decision when we have to, when plane tickets have to be bought or hotel rooms have to be reserved.
“Everybody who was in the mix was going to go there, anyway. And not it’s going to be one more possibly. If we have to replace Andrew, that’ll be one more guy added. If we don’t replace him, it will be maybe a different configuration than was planned a few days ago. It changes the dynamic, so we just have to let it breathe a little.”
With left-hander Andrew Miller likely starting the season on the disabled list, that opened the door for righty Michael Bowden (who is already on the 40-man roster) to potentially make the team. That would give the Sox a bullpen of Bowden, Matt Albers, Mark Melancon, Vicente Padilla, Franklin Morales, and Alfredo Aceves. With five starters – Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz, Felix Doubront, and Daniel Bard -- leaving possibly two bullpen spots to fill from some potential candidates:
Earlier in the day, Valentine said the team likely will not look outside for help. Given that, here are a few possibilities, if Bailey is placed on the DL.
Right-hander Scott Atchison has appeared in eight Grapefruit League games (plus a ‘B’ game), spanning 12 2/3 innings, posting a 2.84 ERA. He has appeared in 60 games over the past two seasons for the Sox, posting a record of 3-3 with a 4.08 ERA. But Atchison, who is out of options for the first time this season, was designated for assignment over the winter, taking him off the 40-man roster, and would have to be added back.
Left-hander Justin Thomas has appeared in 10 games (plus a ‘B’ game) spanning 10 innings, posting a record of 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA. The Sox currently have just one lefty in the pen, with Morales, and Thomas could give them some flexibility there. Thomas, 28, has appeared in 20 big league games – eight with Seattle in 2008, and 12 with Pittsburgh in 2010 – with a record of 0-2 (6.35 ERA). A non-roster invitee, he was signed as a minor league free agent in November, and would have to be added to the 40-man.
Right-hander Junichi Tazawa was optioned to Triple A on March 23. He appeared in five big league games for the Sox this spring (plus an exhibition game against Boston College), spanning seven innings, posting an ERA of 3.86. Tazawa, 25, has appeared in nine games for the Sox, six in 2009 and three last season, posting a record of 2-3, with a 7.31 ERA. He is on the 40-man. Valentine said when Tazawa -- who had Tommy John surgery in April 2010 – was sent down, the manager would like to see the right-hander pitch with more confidence, showing he has recovered all the way from his surgery.
Right-hander Clayton Mortensen appeared in four games (plus a ‘B’ game early in spring) spanning 4 1/3 scoreless innings. Mortensen, acquired in a January trade with the Rockies, has appeared in 24 major league games, including 13 starts, over the past three seasons for the Cardinals, Athletics, and Rockies, posting a combined record of 4-8 (5.12). Mortensen, who is on the 40-man roster, was optioned on March 23.