Posted on February 13, 2017 by Bryan Zarpentine
Heading into spring training, most will agree that the Boston Red Sox have one of the best starting rotations in baseball. With three Cy Young winners in the rotation following the addition of Chris Sale earlier this winter, it’s hard not to think that. But beyond the trio of Sale, David Price, and Rick Porcello, Boston’s rotation may not be so secure heading into the spring season. It’s not a matter of talent that’s the problem; rather, the health of the remaining starters could be an issue.
The Red Sox expect Drew Pomeranz, Eduardo Rodriguez, and knuckleballer Steven Wright to compete for the final two spots in the rotation, which is a rather good problem to have. However, all three have health concerns heading into spring training that could delay the start of their season, creating uncertainty and possible vacancies in the back end of Boston’s rotation.
Wright appears to be the biggest question mark, as he’s still recovering from the shoulder injury he suffered last August while serving as a pinch runner. After a couple of weeks off following the injury, Wright made two starts at the end of August, but after giving up nine runs over 10 innings, he was shut down for the rest of the season. Red Sox manager John Farrell says Wright is improving but his shoulder is still not fully healed.
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“This has probably taken longer than he anticipated, than we certainly anticipated,” Farrell said about Wright’s shoulder. “He’s back throwing to 120 feet. He’s throwing flat ground right now. He still needs to continue to build some arm strength at this point in camp.”
Pomeranz is in a similar situation, as he battled elbow trouble for much of last year, especially the second half of the season after he was traded to the Red Sox. The lefty received stem-cell injections in October to help with the healing process after learning that he wouldn’t need surgery on the elbow. Pomeranz declared himself healthy earlier this year, but Farrell says he may be held back at the start of spring, which could affect his availability for the start of the regular season.
Rodriguez, meanwhile, suffered a minor knee injury towards the end of December while pitching in winter ball. The Red Sox don’t appear worried about the injury, but Rodriguez did miss the first two months of last season due to a knee injury, so the team may be wise to be a little cautious with him this spring.
Farrell says the team will learn more about the health of their pitchers when they undergo their camp physicals on Monday. But it seems like Wright, and possibly Pomeranz, will be held back this spring, potentially making them unavailable at the start of the season. The Red Sox also have reason to be apprehensive about each, as both finished the 2016 season far from fully healthy.
Even though they appear to have six starters vying for five rotation spots, injuries could play a role in what is otherwise expected to be an intriguing battle during spring training. In a perfect world, Farrell says the competition during spring training would result in five starters in the rotation and the odd man out going to the bullpen. But if those six pitchers aren’t fully healthy, the Red Sox could have problems merely filling out the back end of their rotation when opening day rolls around.