Meet your likely Red Sox No. 4 starter, Ryan Weber

Rob Bradford
March 08, 2020 - 2:07 pm

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- With all the talk of openers and injuries, Ron Roenicke understands the reality of these Red Sox: They need to find legitimate innings from starting pitchers.

It's why the idea of relying on a wave of bullpen arms to complement Eduardo Rodriguez, Nathan Eovaldi and Martin Perez might not be realistic. That's where Ryan Weber comes in.

"I think Weber has shown -- whether he’s going to be a fourth starter, fifth starter or an opener, and what happens with Chris --  I think he’s a guy we feel like can do it," said the interim manager when asked if any pitcher had separated himself in terms of getting a permanent spot in the rotation. "The other guys we’ve extended out, I wouldn’t say anybody has shown us, hey, they can do it. I think when we brought them into camp, we felt like their history, they have a chance to do that. So as we go farther in camp and figure out - right now we have two spots with Chris not throwing right now, we have two spots where we give guys an opportunity to do it. Hopefully, we see something."

The fact the Roenicke surfaced Weber was telling.

The 29-year-old has impressed this spring training, allowing one run over his five innings while striking out seven and not walking a batter. But another part of the equation is the impression left on Roenicke during Weber's brief stint with the Red Sox last season.

"t means a lot," he said regarding the Red Sox' confidence in him to this point. "It shows myself what I have done in the past has paid off and that they have seen that I am able to go out there and start a major league game and give adequate innings and keep the team in it. It really helps with the confidence level, too. I never really thought of the negative side of it. I just kept saying, ‘Keep doing what you do. You can control what you can control. Go out there and do your best. If it is meant to be it will happen.’

"I have always known that I had the ability to go out there … Being in the right place at the right time is a big battle to overcome. Having Ron there last year seeing what I can do. He believes in me. We’re in, I wouldn’t say a bind, but there opportunity was out there and Ron believes in me. Especially the manager to believe in me, not just the pitching coach."

A big part of the impression left on Roenicke by Weber was rooted in a memorable six-inning, one-run outing in Toronto last May. But it has also been cemented with what the Sox have seen over the past couple of weeks. And part of that success has been a product of a suggestion made by the Sox' interim skipper.

With runners on base Weber now holds his glove by his stomach instead of in line with this chest. According to the pitcher, it has made a difference when it comes to being quicker to the plate, not allowing the opposition to identify pitches and shortening up his delivery.

"Ron told me that last year," explained Weber, who had the 19th-slowest average fastball in the majors last season (88.4 mph). "It was about time to home plate. Runners on base can also easily see into my glove. And honestly, for me it’s easier to hold it there. These people are smart. They will explode little minor details in your delivery so if I can do one little thing to keep the baserunners off guard or disrupt the timing of the guy at the plate, I’m going to do it."