FORT MYERS, Fla. — On the field in an empty JetBlue Park the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner got his work in.
Under a blazing sun, Rick Porcello faced nine batters, throwing 37 pitches to both Xander Bogaerts and Sandy Leon in a simulated game. It went well enough, with the righty giving up two hits while notching three strikeouts and issuing a free pass.
It was a good first step, but that’s all. And Porcello knew reality of the moment.
That’s why, when talking after the exercise, the idea of joining those pitchers participating in the upcoming World Baseball Classic seemed so foreign.
“I mean, I wouldn’t be ready to compete in a game in the WBC,” Porcello said. “I feel really good right now, but that’s just a different type of pitching. Our responsibilities, at least me, my responsibility is with the Red Sox and being sure that I’m ready to go here. I think that that at least in my head would take away from some of the preparation I want to go through.
“If I want to work slow and focus on my fastball command for an extended period of time, you’re not necessarily going to be able to do that when you’re competing in a game and I’ve got Miguel Cabrera at the plate with second and third and one out. I’m not going to just serve up some fastballs to him. There are definitely some guys that are capable of doing it. Right now, at this stage for me, I couldn’t really fathom pitching in a competitive game like that. Not that I’m going through the motions in spring training games, but it’s different.”
Porcello, who is on track to pitch Opening Day after a scheduled six exhibition starts, is intent on taking advantage of the WBC-induced spring training slate, even though he won’t participate in the tournament.
“Yeah, that’s a benefit to us, I think,” he said. “The more time you have, you can work a little bit slower and take some more time to focus on some little details that maybe if you’re rushing through your preparation for the season you might not have an opportunity to pay attention to as much. You just look at it as an opportunity to get some more work in and continue to refine things.”
To read more about the dangers of the World Baseball Classic for pitchers, read John Tomase’s column by clicking here.