Craig Breslow takes 'a good first step'

March 24, 2014 - 11:19 am

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It has been, by Craig Breslow's own admission, "kind of weird" for the left-hander to go through a spring in which he's felt healthy yet has been held behind his teammates in their preparations for the 2014 season. Whereas most of his teammates are nearing the conclusion of their in-game buildup towards the season, Breslow has been left to throw in non-competitive situations, whether long-tossing or bullpen sessions. That being the case, Monday represented a meaningful step forward for the 33-year-old. For the first time this spring, he pitched in a game setting -- this one a High-A contest against Orioles minor leaguers -- in an effort to build arm strength and get a feel for how close to major league-ready he is. How close to big league-ready did Breslow feel? "Six days," Breslow chuckled, mindful of the proximity of the start of the regular season. "Difficult to kind of quantify. I feel like the thing about arm strength is you can only build it up by going out and throwing, and this was good for me to have the confidence that I can go out there, I can throw all my pitches, I can throw them with good intensity, I can be effective in a game, so now when I'm not on the mound I can similarly be aggressive and try to build up arm strength." Breslow did mix his entire repertoire -- fastball, cutter, changeup, curve -- over the course of his 18 pitches (11 strikes). After he gave up a leadoff single, he picked off the runner on first, elicited a groundout to second from Mike Yastrzemski and a strikeout (with a couple of swing-and-miss changeups) against Trey Mancini. His fastball velocity was in the mid-80s, though it's worth noting that such pedestrian readings reflected in part on the rainy conditions and the relatively adrenaline-free setting of a game on the minor league backfields. All in all, Breslow was able to characterize the outing as "a good first step." "Felt good. I would say, overall, [the inning was] pretty unremarkable, which is good. I've got no major complaints, no major problems," said Breslow. "Probably went about as expected, as planned. Didn't have any problems, didn't feel any discomfort in anything -- just felt like that was the first time I'd gotten on the mound in a competitive situation." The left-hander said he was unsure of his schedule going forward this spring. "That's a really good question and probably one best answered by [manager John Farrell and pitching coach Juan Nieves]," said Breslow. "We've been in communication. We had discussed going back to probably November kind of bringing me along a little bit slower, recognizing some of the hiccups I ran into last year, trying to avoid those, and I feel like we've done a good job of that. I feel strong. I feel healthy. And it's a baseball decision that John and the brain trust need to make." While Breslow acknowledged that, when the offseason plan for his buildup was drawn up, he expected that he would be on the active roster at the start of the regular season, he also accepted that -- even though he feels strong -- the team may opt to proceed deliberately in recognition of the importance of keeping him at maximum strength for the entire season rather than just the beginning of it. "I think [March 31] was the expectation. I also think there was also kind of the caveat that we would go as fast or as slow as made sense and as body and health dictated," said Breslow, who opened 2013 on the disabled list due to shoulder tendinitis. "Again, my volume of throwing throughout spring training has probably been heavier than anybody else's. It just wasn't in a game setting. It wasn't off a mound. I feel good. Comparing this to where I was at this point last year, it's a totally different scenario. I just think we used some of the tools that were available to us and that's how we got to right here. "It's been kind of weird because obviously when you feel good and you say, 'I'm healthy, I feel fine and I don't understand why we're moving slowly,' that's kind of a thought that pops into your head," he said. "I also understand how we got here and recognize that being healthy from either March 31 or April 5 or April 6 through the end of October is what's important and not kind of today. So I think we've kind of gotten reminded about keeping our eye on what's most important." While Breslow threw his inning in a game, starter Jake Peavy threw six simulated innings and 100 pitches inside the batting cages at the Red Sox spring training complex.