Red Sox general manager Mike Hazen joined the Ordway, Merloni & Fauria show on Wednesday to discuss the team’s latest injured player and new starting pitcher Drew Pomeranz. To hear the interview, visit the OM&F on demand audio page.
In Tuesday night’s 4-0 win over the Giants, relief pitcher Koji Uehara came out of the game after throwing just seven pitches with an apparent pectoral strain. It is unclear yet when Uehara, 41, will be able to play again, meaning that Hazen and the Red Sox front office may have to make another move for a reliever.
“We’re going to get a better look at Koji this afternoon,” Uehara said. “Never really a good time after the game to get the best read on an injury. We usually like to let 24 or so hours set in before we can get a full handle on what we’re dealing with, hopefully its nothing overly serious.”
Added Hazen: “As far as what we do moving forward, I think there’s a couple of ways to look at it. One, we’re going to be opportunistic and continue to look at the trade market. I think one of the benefits to what we did early in terms of the aggressiveness, allows us to really survey the market and watch what else is going on, and allows us to continue to watch the team and see if there are other needs. I do think we feel pretty good about the bullpen as a whole. … I feel as a whole that the group the way we look at it is in a pretty good position. Our starters are working deeper into games, I think it’s really helped from a workload standpoint, it’s allowed [manager John Farrell] to more cherry pick where he’s going to use guys, and that’s always beneficial. We’ll see how it goes over the next seven or eight days or so, I do think overall, when you talk about getting [reliever Junichi Tazawa] back and you talk about getting [close Craig Kimbrel] back, we feel pretty good about the group. But there’s always room to improve the club. We’ll never sit here and not say that, given where we’re at.”
The team’s most recent move resulted in bringing in starting left-hander Drew Pomeranz from San Diego. Pomeranz was named an All-Star and holds a 2.47 ERA, but his workload capability is a concern. He has never pitched more than 100 innings in his five-year career until this season.
“We’re mindful of everybody’s workload,” Hazen said. “Certainly year over year is one way we look at it, outing to outing, number of pitches, how hard they have to work, we’re going to be mindful of that as we move forward. But that’s no different than all the other guys that start for us, or even the bullpen guys. We’re always conscious of the workload, we have every reason to believe he’s going to be there for us all the way through. I don’t think he’s pitched in the playoffs, so anybody who’s stepping into October for the first time … you need to be mindful for those things. It looks that the way the division is shaking out right now it may go down to the last day. Hopefully if you continue to play well and you can create some separation somehow someway, those are some of the benefits that you may have going into September where you can really monitor those things. You’re not always afforded that luxury, and if it goes down to the wire … you’re just going to have to deal with it when it comes. That’s where depth shows up again, and it’s something we’re going to have to be mindful of moving forward.”
Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Red Sox news, go to the team page at weei.com/redsox.
On Blake Swihart and Chris Young’s injury status: “Both making steady progress, don’t have any firm timetables yet coming up. They may have that later on today with John and others. They’ve been getting checkups, everything’s moving in a good direction for both. They’re both doing activity at varying degrees. They’re important pieces for us to get back. When we look back at when we were really clicking on all cylinders, it really rounds out the club, given the skill sets that they have. The versatility it allows for John. So we’re looking forward to getting those guys back. We’re looking forward to the whole team getting back and healthy at some point in time. The guys that are here that are grinding through it right now, are playing really well. During the course of the season, you’re going to have those injuries, you’re going to have those ups and downs, but to sit where we’re sitting right now giving what we’re talking about, we feel pretty good.”
On Clay Buchholz’s future with the team: “He’s in the bullpen right now, and we’re going to need all of our bullpen guys to contribute. He’s still in a position of protecting the rotation as well. We have not gone very far with the same rotation, hopefully we have stabilized that, but you can never tell or plan for that. You have to plan for the alternative. In our world, we’re expecting these five guys to go for us, but you never know. As such, he’s there to protect us from that, and we think he’s more than capable of doing that, and we think he’s going to be effective out of the bullpen in his current role. Beyond that, we’re not really getting too far ahead of ourselves.”
On the extra road trips in the second half: “It is definitely weighted a little bit heavier in the front this year, it goes from year to year. The league gives us the schedule, we get input on the schedule to some degree, but you can imagine all 29 clubs asking for things in the schedule, kind of tough for a schedule maker to put it all together and make everybody happy. … The league really determines that, I think it’s all reciprocal, some years we have hardly any games in April and some years we end up with a lot. … It’s just the way the schedule worked out, it’s going to be a challenge for us going through, but no different than any other schedule we ever have. The players are constantly faced with these types of things, and we’re going to have to grind through it.”
On top prospects Yoan Moncada and Andrew Benintendi, and when fans can expect them to make the jump to the majors: “We’re getting to that point where those conversations are starting. I think once they get their feet wet in Double-A and really start to establish themselves, which is what they’re doing both right now, they’ve been outstanding all season. I think right now at this point in time in Double-A is where we start these conversations internally. We still have some time, because barring some crazy things happening up above where we’re forced into a decision, we still have time to get these guys, because they still have another half-step to go, or a full step to go in some cases. We’ve done this with almost all of our players at this stage. … We’re going to start to expose them to other parts of the field naturally because we don’t know where we can create the major league opportunity. … We want to maximize versatility to enable the organization to benefit from their offensive performance some point in time, and we also want to benefit the player. … So we’ll begin those discussions, there’s nothing really on the immediate horizon for those things, but we’re going to start those discussions and we’ll start getting guys acclimated. Once they get to Triple-A is when we really go into it, because once you go into Triple-A, now you’ve got to protect that major league team. That’s when we’ve really started to move guys around and maximize their ability to impact the club.”