Koji Uehara

Morning Fort: Koji Uehara explains why he's messing around with cutter; Rusney Castillo almost ready; John Farrell talks roster

Rob Bradford
March 16, 2015 - 6:46 am

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It's Matt Harvey Day at JetBlue Park. The Red Sox' game against the Mets Monday is allowed a bit more spice thanks to New York's ace getting the start against the Sox' regulars. And just for good measure, highly-regarded hurler Noah Syndergaard was slated to follow Harvey. (It already hasn't been a good day for the Mets, with news that one of their other top pitchers, Zack Wheeler, has a torn elbow ligament.) "If they want to give him up, we would be certainly welcome," joked Farrell of Harvey. For the Red Sox, Joe Kelly gets the start, with Steven Wright, Edwin Escobar, Edward Mujica, Alexi Ogando, Dalier Hinojosa and Junichi Tazawa following. - There was some buzz in camp about how Koji Uehara's spring training performances haven't been lights out, with the closer allowing runs in two of his three outings. Uehara's most recent hiccup was somewhat explained away by Farrell due to the reliever prioritizing his cutter, a pitch he previously has barely implemented. Here was Koji explaining his recent spring training experimentation: Are you working on it more this year? Uehara: "A little bit more because I feel a little bit stronger of a need to learn a new pitch." Why now? Uehara: "I feel the hitters are getting a hang of my repertoire, which I feel I need to expand." How do you think it's coming along? Uehara: "I can't really say if it's getting better or not. There's good days and bad days." When did you decide to do this? Uehara: "I've been working on it consistently going back to my days in Japan. But this is probably the most I've worked on it." Do you think this is something you'll start using? "Yes." - Rusney Castillo might see game action as soon as Wednesday, taking batting practice for the first time since injuring his left oblique Monday. "That I don'€™t know," said Farrell when asked if Castillo would be ready for Opening Day. "He projects to be game ready by Wednesday, so he'€™s going to take live BP, and he'€™ll throw to bases tomorrow. He'€™s passed every baseball physical test that'€™s we'€™ve put him in front of to date. He'€™s responded well to the strain of the oblique so that'€™s our plan right now." The Sox manager reiterated that the team hasn't closed the door on the outfield competition despite Mookie Betts' emergence and Castillo's injury. - Farrell said the organization hasn't decided if Edwin Escobar will work as a starter or reliever if sent to the minor leagues. The lefty won't work as a starting pitcher in major league camp, but has intrigued the staff. - When asked about Robbie Ross and Mitchell Boggs, Farrell offered similar evaluations, suggesting there was work to do. Ross, the pitcher acquired from Texas for Anthony Ranaudo, does have options, potentially allowing for more time to regain his 2013 form while working in the minors. "He probably hasn'€™t shown the finish to his cutter, particularly getting the ball in on right-handers," Farrell said. "He'€™s going to throw in a minor league game here [Monday]. We'€™re trying to get our arms around '€¦ He went from a very good reliever in his first year in Texas to a starters role last year. Sometimes the stuff doesn'€™t play up as much in a starters role as it does in a shorter stint coming out of the bullpen. Our goal and our approach with him is to get him back to the bullpen, hoping to regain that performance level and the overall stuff and we'€™re still in the process of that." Boggs, who has an opt-out on April 4, has gotten good results, but apparently needs to take another step in order to enter into legitimate competition for a big league spot. "A similar situation to Robbie Ross where we're trying to regain previous form. This is a guy who flew the minor leagues as a starter in St. Louis and then was moved to the bullpen, became a very good closer for them. We're just trying to recapture some of that. He clearly pitches without fear. It's just how we evaluate the overall stuff. - Farrell said that the Red Sox wouldn't necessarily prioritize a pitcher who could pitch multiple innings despite a bullpen full of one-inning relievers. The manager had high praise for Tommy Layne, who would seem to be competition for the bullpen's final spot with the likes of Brandon Workman. - Here is the Red Sox' lineup for Monday: Mookie Betts CF, Dustin Pedroia 2B, David Ortiz DH, Hanley Ramirez LF, Pablo Sandoval 3B, Mike Napoli 1B, Shane Victorino RF, Xander Bogaerts SS, Ryan Hanigan C.