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Drew Pomeranz says he's OK after leaving start, but what if he isn't?

Rob Bradford
March 02, 2018 - 4:28 pm

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Drew Pomeranz does have a history of false alarms, so he has that going for him.

So when the Red Sox starter walked off the mound in his first spring training start, after his 17th pitch, Friday afternoon against the Cardinals, and proceeded to proclaim he "wasn't too worried about" the tightness in his left forearm, there certainly would seem to be a chance he is on the right track. It was last year, after all, when Pomeranz's triceps tightness proved to be nothing too serious.

"I felt pretty good in the first inning just felt a little tightness going out there in the second inning," Pomeranz told reporters in Jupiter. "So it was just something I didn't feel like pushing in my first outing. I came in here, the trainers checked it out and everything seems fine, so we'll see how I feel coming in the next couple of days."

Still, any time you mention a forearm injury and a pitcher there will always be some concern that news regarding an injured elbow isn't far behind. Just ask Carson Smith, who experienced the same sort if hiccup on the exact same mound two years ago only to ultimately have Tommy John surgery.

And Pomeranz did have to manage his elbow following the 2016 season, going the route of stem cell injections. Since then, however, there haven't been a whole lot of hiccups, with the lefty finishing 2017 with 17 wins and 32 starts.

"I've been feeling good, feeling great, no issues," Pomeranz told reporters. "Obviously first outing, maybe something just got a little tight, getting all amped up for this game."

No matter what, this does serve as somewhat of a wake-up call for the Red Sox.

With Eduardo Rodriguez and Steven Wright both doubtful for the beginning the season, the Red Sox already have depth starters Brian Johnson, Hector Velazquez and Roenis Elias vying for a spot at the end of the team's rotation.

But when we're talking about the potential loss of Pomeranz, a different conversation has to be had. Until Rick Porcello morphs back into a top-of-the-rotation guy, we're talking about the team's No. 3 starter, and perhaps No. 2 if David Price has any more physical hiccups.

The likelihood is that the Red Sox would try and get by with what they have for the time being even if Pomeranz has an extended absence. Sure, there are legitimate starters still on the market, with Jake Arrieta, Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb still looking for jobs. (If you want to take a whirl at guys like Ubaldo Jimenez, Jeremy Hellickson or John Lackey, have at it.) But the cost of going over the top level of the luxury tax, and losing 10 spots in the draft, might not seem worth it.

At some point, there should be an acceptance that the Red Sox are paying three starts a combined $63.5 million and that -- coupled with a good young talent in Rodriguez and the potential of Wright -- will just have to be enough for the time being.