Brewers general manager David Stearns affirmed Wednesday that Tyler Thornburg was in good health when he traded him to the Red Sox over the winter.
When Stearns took over the Brewers in late 2015, Thonburg had come back from a UCL injury.
“He was healthy. I am not particularly sure what the timeline was prior to when I got here, but he was healthy certainly when I got here in 2015, and throughout the 2016 season and did really an outstanding job for us,” Stearns said on the CSNNE Baseball Show podcast. “He’s a really talented pitcher. A guy who keeps his composure late in games and as soon as he gets healthy I have no question that he’s going to help the Red Sox out a lot.
“We, as long as, I’ve been here we had really no concerns at all. And he really did a wonderful job for us.”
Click to listen to the podcast. Story continues below.
Thornburg said in spring training that the Red Sox shoulder program was different from the Brewers, at least contributing to some of his initial discomfort. That discomfort never went away. Thornburg’s been on the disabled list all season with a right shoulder impingement.
Stearns stood by the Brewers' workout routine.
“I saw it very peripherally. I don’t know exactly what he said,” Stearns said of Thornburg's comments. “I knew he was dealing with some shoulder fatigue and that the Red Sox shoulder program was in some way different from ours. But we’ve had a pretty good run of success here long before I got here of preventing shoulder injuries.
“We have a really talented medical group that’s been in place for a number of years that works very well together, that works very well with our pitchers, so I certainly have complete confidence in our shoulder program. And that it’s doing a good job for our guys.”
The Red Sox and Brewers first talked about Thornburg midseason last year.
“Throughout the course of the summer we had interest in a number of our relievers," Stearns said. "I think we had discussions about a couple of our guys . . . In this case it took everyone a couple of months for everyone to figure out a deal that could potentially work for both sides. Obviously that’s the goal in any of these transactions, is to come up with a solution that both sides can look back on and say that that one worked.”
For the Red Sox, right now, it’s hard to say it’s worked. Third baseman Travis Shaw is a productive player in a mashing Brewers lineup, while the Red Sox are desperately waiting for some help at the hot corner from the disabled list.
The trade that brought Thornburg to the Sox centered on Shaw, who wasn’t thrilled about his playing-time situation in Boston last year.
“A number of things drew us to him,” Stearns said. “First is you have a relatively young player who’s demonstrated above average power production throughout his career, not only in home-run production, but extra-base production. We saw some positional versatility and the ability to play both third base and first base. We were really impressed with his ability to pick up third base a little bit later in his career. That’s not easy for someone to do, and demonstrated a degree of athleticism that maybe isn’t evident on a lot of corner players throughout the league, and he was a guy we felt like if given an opportunity, if given regular playing time, he might have a chance to flourish.
“Clearly he had chances for ABs in Boston last year. He also was in a little bit of a platoon situation that threw him off his game a little bit, or at least that’s potentially why he saw some second half decline. So we were willing to give him an opportunity, we had obviously a need and he’s filled that spot in our lineup and the field for us very well.”
Stearns said he has not personally referred to Shaw as the Mayor of Ding Dong City.