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Drew Pomeranz still not stressing about free agency

Rob Bradford
July 02, 2018 - 11:22 am

WASHINGTON, D.C. — This was supposed to be Drew Pomeranz’s big chance. An All-Star two years ago. The winner of 17 games last season. It was all lining up to become a financial windfall thanks to free agency following the current campaign.

It hasn’t gone as planned.

Pomeranz has pitched just eight times, totaling a 6.81 ERA before heading back on the 10-day disabled list with biceps tendinitis. It has left him playing catch-up, having to find a way back on the mound in order to once again establish his worth. For a player going heading into the free agent process for the first time, it would be understandable to carry a healthy dose of anxiety.

The 29-year-old insists, however, he has that part of it all under control.

“The last year before I hit arbitration was a little weird because it was like, ‘Oh, I need to do really well to make more money.’ But that’s kind of the first year of playing for your contract. This year is different because other teams can pick you, but it’s the same because you’re trying to perform to get paid, basically. And you try and filter those thoughts out,” Pomeranz told WEEI.com. “I felt like arbitration prepares to handle things like this year.

“I feel like arbitration prepared me and then next year it was like, ‘Oh I have to do better to make more.’ And then you want to do even better to make even more. You don’t want to think about money, but you want to think about doing your job on the mound. At the same time you’re thinking about your life and how money can change your life. It’s reality, you have to care about what’s on the field to get the money. That’s what I’ve learned through all of it. Don’t worry about being paid, but just doing your part on the field, showing up every day and doing what you’re supposed to do.”

Pomeranz’s approach is now going to be put to the test, with the lefty slated to make his first rehab start for Triple-A Pawtucket Monday.

There is still time to leave an impression, both on his place in the starting rotation and teams who might be eyeing the lefty’s services beyond this season. But first thing is first, a reality Pomeranz has gotten his head around.

“If I did it’s probably gone and past now,” he said of worrying about free agency. “You think about it a little bit, but at this point, I’m just focusing on getting back to being me. I think I probably came back a little bit earlier than I should have. I felt fine. Health-wise, I was great. I just think I created some bad habits in spring training. I wanted to pitch. That was the main thing at the beginning of the year. I didn’t want to keep waiting, and I felt like I was ready to pitch. But I don’t think that was affected by free agency.

“Obviously when things don’t go your way you look back and wish you would have done things differently, but at the same time if I would have come back and been light’s out or been like last year, then we wouldn’t be having this conversation (about free agency). Now I’ve almost had some time to sit back and let everything slide away, any of those thoughts. I’m just focused on being me, throwing fastballs, curveballs, cutters and everything I’m supposed to be throwing. I think this could have been kind of a blessing in disguise, this DL stint. Obviously, I didn’t want to hurt my biceps tendon or have neck spasms, but I think I was able to use this time pretty well.”

Now, he’s getting what might be his last chance to define himself. It’s important to the Red Sox. It’s important to Pomeranz’s future.

“I think me coming back too early isn’t good for anybody,” he said. “It’s not good for the team if I’m starting four innings at a time. It’s just not good for the bullpen. I don’t want to let those guys down. I want to pick those guys up. And I don’t want to feel helpless on the mound. That benefits me this offseason. That benefits the team this year. I think those are some things I’ve had some time to think about. You have to be ready to go this time. There’s no more time to mess around and have another break.”