By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON The Red Sox have announced a starter for Sundays game against the Orioles to take the place of Jon Lester who was placed on the disabled list July 6 with a left latissimus strain.
Right-hander Kyle Weiland will make his major league debut in the first-half finale. Weiland is 8-6 with a 3.00 ERA in 17 starts for Triple-A Pawtucket this season, allowing two or fewer runs in 14 of his starts. In his last 10 starts, he is 6-2 with a 2.33 ERA. He has 99 strikeouts against 37 walks in 93 innings for a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 2.68 and a strikeouts-per-nine innings ratio of 9.6.
Its his day to start, said manager Terry Francona. Hes lined up for it. Hes really been doing well. So as much as its kind of gone wrong with some Health, this is the flip side, where its really exciting. Im kind of looking forward to it.
Weiland, 24, was taken in the third round of the 2008 draft out of Notre Dame, the Sox fifth overall pick that year. He was in big league camp this spring, appearing in four games.
He came to camp this spring, which is good, Francona said. Now that its time to pitch he won't be introducing himself to everybody. Im sure hell have butterflies and be nervous but guys know who he is, our catchers have caught him. I believe he went through the rookie development program and thats good, too. But hes throwing the ball really well. Hes missing a lot of bats, come up with a cutter along with his breaking ball and fastball. Hes having a lot of success there.
Im not surprised by his strikeout numbers. He throws hard. Hes got a live arm. He always has. But starting to command and I think hes competing and just starting to mature as a pitcher. That happens. Sometimes its at different rates but hes always had a good arm.
Alfredo Aceves, who pitched two scoreless innings in Thursdays win over the Os, was another candidate to make the start on Sunday.
We certainly could have, Francona said. But the way our bullpen is situated he gives us such a luxury of pitching short, pitching long. Again, he may start again some time, but, again, this kids Weiland lined up and Hes been pretty hot. Wed like to send him out there and see how he does.
Weiland is not on the 40-man roster. The Sox will have to make a corresponding move when they add him to the roster.
Yamaico Navarro is making his first start in the outfield, playing left, batting ninth. Navarro began playing the outfield in the minors for the first time this season, playing three games in left, one in center, and eight in right field for the PawSox.
We saw him run balls down this spring, like in BP, Francona said. A lot of guys do do it but it seemed like as an organization we thought, Wait a minute. Maybe we ought to think about doing this. We wanted him to get his feet on the ground in Triple A first. He started out hitting real well, then he got hurt. Then they moved him to both left and rightmore left than right. they say hes been really good. Hes got a good clock defensively, like when the balls hit to him at short and thirdIm sure it helps to have an arm like that, but you never see him rush. Hes got a real good idea, real good awareness of where the runner is. It seems like thats kind of translated out to the outfield also.
Hes a kind of hard guy to assess He doesnt speak a ton of English and I dont know how comfortable he is right now at an early part of his career here opening up too much. Last year when he got going he swung at everything in sight. He was nervous or too aggressive and hes kind of harnessed that a little bit because if he does, hes got great bat speed, a little bit like Josh Reddick. That ball comes off his bat pretty special.
Playing in front of the Green Monster for the first time can be somewhat intimidating for any player, especially for a young player. Francona has limited concern.
Its his first time but hes a really good athlete, Francona said. So no more than anybody else.
Dustin Pedroia launched for a three-run homer in the third inning Thursday night, on a 3-1 pitch well above the strike zone. Asked if Pedroia is one of the better bad-ball hitters, Francona replied:
Well, you're looking at a guy across the field in Vlad Guerrero, he takes that to a whole new level. Theres not a pitch you throw him he doesnt think he can hit. Unfortunately, sometimes he does. Pedey, its funny because his first at-bat, first inning, guy was having trouble throwing strikes, Pedey had 2-0, swung at a high fastball and popped it up and he was mad. But it was like thats the pitch he hits when hes looking for it. And then his next time up its like the same pitch but maybe even higher and he hits it a mile.
Asked if he thought Pedroia was being more selective at the plate this season, Francona replied:
No, I actually think he hasnt. But I just think hes working the counts real well and then he gets to two strikes and hes laying off that pitch. His approach to me seems pretty similar. He says its because Gonzies not giving him any protection.
Yes, that last line was said with tongue in cheek.
Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen