Eduardo Rodriguez might be an option out of the Red Sox’ bullpen Monday night. (Joe Nicholson/USA Today Sports)
For Drew Pomeranz, this whole relieving thing wasn’t going to be a problem.
“It was strange because Pom comes down there and I’m figuring he needs six outs to get ready, or wondering how long it’s going to take,” said Red Sox bullpen coach Dana LeVangie of Pomeranz’s first appearance as a reliever, on the final day of the regular season. “But obviously he was used to this situation. He was ready in less than 10 pitches.
“He basically told me, ‘Hey, you guys have to stop babying me. I’m used to this.'”
But Pomeranz — who has appeared out of the bullpen in 59 of his 138 major league outings — may be more the exception than the norm.
With the Red Sox staving off elimination in Game 3 of the American League Division Series Monday, there is a very real possibility that both starters David Price and/or Eduardo Rodriguez would be used as relievers. (This is assuming the Sox choose to go with Rick Porcello as their Game 4 starter, if needed.)
If the situation does present itself, it would mean that four pitchers who have spent extended time in the Red Sox’ rotation this season — Joe Kelly, Pomeranz, Price and Rodriguez — will be watching at least part of Game 3 in the Fenway Park home bullpen.
It’s not out the ordinary by any means, with 2013 starters John Lackey and Ryan Dempster both spending time out of the Red Sox’ bullpen during that postseason run. And Price came on to throw three innings of relief for the Blue Jays in Game 4 of their ALDS series last season.
But for pitchers like Rodriguez, who has never served a reliever as a member of the Red Sox, there is a process to acclimating himself to the role.
“I don’t think I would ever tell them what to do, but I would always want to get a sense for that given day when John might use these options so I can lead them into preparation, stretching. Some might not all be the same,” LeVangie explained. “Some might be used later in the game, some might be used shorter.
“Everyone is going to be different, but I think more than anything most guys can get their heaters ready and they can work off of that. I think the environment kind of gets them geared up sooner rather than later.”
Adrenaline and guidance will have to do. When it comes to preparing for the all-hands-on-deck scenario, there isn’t time for much else.
“It’s a different challenge for them, but those guys, most of them are so competitive that it’s not a problem,” LeVangie said. “And the environment feeds into them getting ready.”
“I just do whatever they want,” Rodriguez said. “If it’s going to be in the bullpen or starting, I’ll do whatever they need me to do.”