Joe Kelly

Observations from JetBlue Park: Red Sox might start season with 8 relievers

Rob Bradford
March 23, 2015 - 12:41 pm
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It wasn't a memorable game at JetBlue Park Monday. In fact, it never really officially took place. The meeting between the Red Sox and Cardinals was halted due to rain after 4 1/2 innings, with St. Louis carrying a 2-0 lead. Even though the stats don't count, let it be known that Rick Porcello went five innings for the Sox, giving up two runs on six hits while striking out five and walking one. The real news, however, came after the sort-of-game with John Farrell suggesting his team could break camp with eight relievers. Such a scenario would take place if the Red Sox decide to keep Joe Kelly back in extended spring training. Kelly, who hasn't pitched in Grapefruit League action since leaving his March 16 start with biceps soreness, is slated to pitch in a minor league Friday. Farrell noted that the situation should be clearer after Friday. Kelly isn't pitching in the Red Sox' scheduled game against the Braves in Orlando that day in order to keep the option of retroactively placing the pitcher on the 15-day disabled list in play. (If a player performs in front of a paying spring training crowd, it limits the club's ability to retroactively DL him.) The Red Sox won't need a fifth starter for their first two series in Philadelphia and New York due to the April 7 off day. The first time they would need the extra starter would be April 12. Kelly threw a bullpen session Sunday without incident, integrating starts and stops to simulate game situations. ("I don'€™t anticipate him not being ready at this point, but we'€™re just keeping the other scenario as an option," the manager said.) "I think that group has probably narrowed some, the guys in competition," said Farrell regarding the competition for the last bullpen spot. "We'€™ll have more information to factor in by Saturday, which would include Kelly'€™s next outing. There'€™s one scenario that could have us break with eight relievers. And the first time we would need a fifth starter would be on the 15th. That'€™s all being factored into this as well." Clay Buchholz will pitch against the Braves in Orlando Friday, with Steven Wright joining Kelly in facing minor leaguers. The group of relievers projected by this writer to make the team in such a scenario would be: Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa, Edward Mujica, Craig Breslow, Alexi Ogando, Anthony Varvaro, Tommy Layne and Matt Barnes. -- Porcello was optimistic in regards to his outing, having now allowed three earned runs over 10 innings. "I feel strong," the pitcher said. "My sequences and the way I'm thinking on the mound is there. The consistency of the pitches isn't where I want it to be. That'€™s why we're here in spring training right now. I've just got to keep working on the consistency. I like the sequences. The changeup was really a lot better today, and that was really the one pitch I had been working on in between starts. It's there, and there's spots where everything is really good and working together, and there's some spots where it's a little inconsistent. Overall I feel strong and healthy and ready to go." -- David Ortiz could see some at-bats in minor league games over the next few days, but is still eyeing a Thursday return to the regular lineup.

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