The Red Sox called up Jonathan Diaz from Triple-A Pawtucket on Saturday to fill in at third base while Stephen Drew recovers from a hamstring injury and Jose Iglesias moves back to shortstop. To make room for Diaz on the 40-man roster, Clayton Mortensen was designated for assignment.
Diaz, who will make his major-league debut at age 28 on Friday, has hit .241/.350/.341 in 55 games with Pawtucket this year. Because Drew isn’t going on the DL at this time, Farrell said Diaz was the Sox’ only option to fill in on the left side of the infield. Drew is considered day-to-day, and Farrell said he responded well to treatment on Saturday morning.
“Brock Holt‘s on the DL and won’t be in a game till Monday with Pawtucket,” Farrell said. “Stephen Drew is not a DL situation, so that kept us from bringing [Will] Middlebrooks back or even being considered. The other part of this is, Diaz can also play shortstop. So there were a number of contributing factors to the decision.”
Diaz played in the Blue Jays’ system for his entire career before this season, so he’s familiar with Farrell and several of the Sox coaches. Farrell said Diaz brings range and experience to the lineup that Brandon Snyder, recently called up as a corner utility player, doesn’t offer. Diaz has played shortstop, third base and second base throughout his minor league career.
“A little bit more range,” Farrell said of Diaz. “A little bit more, a full career on the infield, and he’s a guy that’s well aware of our system. He’s had experience with [Brian Butterfield], myself, Torey [Lovullo] in Toronto last year as well as this spring training with us. And the fact is, this is a guy that’s worked seven, eight years to get to the big leagues and this will be a special day for him.”
Farrell said the decision to DFA Mortensen was performance-based. The right-hander has a 1.58 WHIP and a 5.34 ERA over 30 1/3 innings this year. Over his three appearances in June, he allowed three earned runs in 3 1/3 innings on nine hits and a walk.
“The fact was that we needed a roster spot,” Farrell said. “We couldn’t option someone to get Diaz here. And unfortunately, Clayton’s spot is the one that’s been opened up.”
Mortensen said he was upset to leave but harbored no hard feelings toward the Sox for the situation.
“They know what I can do,” Mortensen said. “Being in Triple-A wouldn’t be a horrible thing. It’s a place I know and a place I’ve pitched before. Whatever happens happens. One way or another, I hope I’m just back out playing somewhere, whether it be here or somewhere else. I’m kind of upset to leave this team just because I know this team is special. We’re doing something great this year. I was glad I was able to be a part of it for the time I was. Now I’m just happy to be healthy again. I feel confident and feel good to go out and pitch. We’ll just see how that goes.”
Mortensen hasn’t pitched since June 10, and he said he was getting “antsy” waiting for the call in the bullpen. While he had some health issues earlier in the year, he said he feels that he’s at full strength now.
“I think a lot of it has to do with just battling some issues that came up,” Mortensen said. “My hip issue really was bothering me for a long time and made it so I was lacking consistency. Now I feel great. Working with Dr. Dan [Dyrek], he’s got me back to feeling really good. My shoulder’s gotten back to feeling really strong again. That’s all I can really ask for. Now it’s just time to go back out and be more consistent.”
Now, all Mortensen can do is wait to see where he’s headed next.
“I’m just headed back home to spend time with my wife and son,” he said. “Just wait around the phone and see what happens. Take it easy for the next couple days and wait for a phone call to come and say I’m going somewhere or something’s happened. That’s all I can really do. I get to spend some time with my kid, though, and my wife, so that makes me happy.”
Without Mortensen to fill a long relief role in the bullpen, Farrell said the Sox still have plenty of options to absorb those innings.
“Multiple innings can come from [Craig] Breslow, come from [Alex] Wilson,” Farrell said. “[Junichi] Tazawa is available again today. [Andrew] Bailey‘s available again today. Like to stay away from [Koji] Uehara, but we feel like we’ll be able to get through today, and if we have to, we’ll respond day-to-day based on pitching needs.”
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