Steven Wright (Jasen Winlove/USA Today Sports)
FORT MYERS, Fla. — There was some eyebrow-raising going on at the beginning of spring training when it was determined Steven Wright was still easing his way back from his shoulder injury.
But Monday actually may have eased some fears that Wright wouldn’t be ready when the regular season rolled around.
Throwing off a mound since the Red Sox were in Cleveland for their two postseason games, Wright executed a split of fastballs and knuckleballs in his 25-pitch bullpen session. The result was along the lines of what the knuckleballer was looking for, with no pain or restrictions.
“Encouraging,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “I thought Steven Wright today was unrestricted. He was out over his front side with good extension. He was able to throw both his fastball and knuckleball today. He didn’t speak of any lingering issues with his shoulder. A very productive and positive day for Steven.”
“It felt good,” Wright said. “It felt a lot better than I thought it was. The ball was coming out good. It definitely gives me some injury to build off of and take it into the next one.”
Also throwing his first bullpen was Drew Pomeranz, who is being eased into things after receiving stem cell injections in his left elbow in the offseason.
Farrell noted that both Wright and Pomeranz, who have been throwing out to 120 feet, will remain on the same progression, with facing hitters in batting practice serving as the next step.
After the session, Pomeranz also supplied some further information regarding his offseason injection.
“It was pretty painful to be honest,” he noted. “I heard PRP [platelet rich plasma] is pretty painful too. The way they do it is they kind of scrape the tendon, the flexor, to create some bleeding I guess and then they shoot the stem cells on top so I guess your body knows to heal there. I was fine five minutes into it then about 20 minutes later I couldn’t bend my arm for like five days. I’ve heard some guys say PRP it’s like that for a few weeks, mine wasn’t that bad, probably just like five or six days.”
– Chris Sale threw his first live batting practice as a member of the Red Sox and was (surprise, surprise) good.
“He certainly gives an uncomfortable feel to the hitter in the box,” Farrell said. “And you combine it with stuff that seemingly moves all over the strike zone. We’re getting a first-hand look at why he’s been so successful and an elite pitcher.”
“You know, more importantly, just kind of competing against myself moreso than the batter that I’m facing,” said Sale, whose session amounted to throwing 30 pitches. “When you’re throwing a fastball away, you try to keep it down and try to see the movement and get some good work in. I know that a lot of people say that spring training is this and that, but this is my time to get ready for the season. It’s a long season, so I try to prepare my body and my mind as best I can.”
– It was a momentous day for Brandon Workman, who hadn’t thrown to major league hitters since the end of the 2015 spring training.
Workman, who underwent Tommy John surgery, showed some flashes of his old self when throwing to hitters Monday, but still has some work to do. The righty hasn’t pitched in a major league game since 2014.
“I was excited. It was good to be back out there and have batters in the box and just be part of the regular stuff,” Workman said. “I felt like it got there. Early I was just getting the feeling for it. Getting it going. Then I felt like I settled in pretty good and was locating pretty well. It was a good day, for sure.”
“I thought he got better throughout the session,” Farrell said. “He’s still going to need some innings coming off the surgery and the rehab. There were times where the ball showed the previous carry through the strike zone. You’re just kind of getting a gauge early on, and yet there’s still work to be done certainly before he gets back into games with any projected production on his part.”
– One of the more impressive feats this spring has already come from the return of Sam Travis.
The first base prospect, who wowed the Red Sox with a .469 batting average and 1.147 OPS in 18 Grapefruit League games last spring, has shown absolutely no ill-effects from the knee surgery which ended his 2016 last June.
“Hard-nosed player. a grinder type, a blue-collar player,” Farrell said of Travis. “The way he went through drill work the first couple of days, there’s no evidence of the ACL surgery that he had. He feels great. The work that he put in on the rehab is certainly paying off. But he impressed last year in his first camp with his ability to impact the baseball and just maybe the determination and the aggressiveness that he exudes when he’s on the field.”
– Farrell said once again that while nothing is set in stone, Sandy Leon currently has the upper-hand on the starting catching spot.
“I can’t say that it’s not without competition. But if we were to open up tomorrow, it’s likely Leon is behind the plate leading things off based on what that group of guys at the catching position did last year and the way Sandy has evolved in his own right,” said the manager. (He would not bite when asked which pitcher Leon might be catching if the season started tomorrow.)