Red Sox

Why Mexican League pick-up Hector Velazquez's Red Sox debut matters


Why Mexican League pick-up Hector Velazquez's Red Sox debut matters

ST. LOUIS - If not him, then who?

The Red Sox are dipping further into their thin starting pitching depth this week, scheduling righty Hector Velazquez to start Thursday in Oakland. 

Velazquez was signed out of the Mexican League over the winter for $30,000, a price that can escalate depending on his time in the big leagues.

The Sox would surely love to pay more for Velazquez — if that means they, in fact, have a reliable pitcher. He doesn’t throw hard, but has a strong mix of pitches and was doing very well at Triple-A Pawtucket, with a 1.55 ERA, 20 strikeouts and five walks in 29 innings.

Kyle Kendrick’s big league stint did not work out. Kendrick could get another shot, but he’d be hard to sell as a viable long-term option right now. So the Sox move down the short list to Velazquez.

After him, there seems only one other Triple-A pitcher in the major league mix: Brian Johnson.

Arguably, the Sox already need one starting pitcher to emerge. How Velazquez fares, therefore, could impact their trade deadline approach. 

One of the reasons his signing was smart was because he’s not entirely green at age 28, but has minor league options. He can be sent to the minors and recalled freely. 

So much about the Sox rotation depends on David Price, who may return to the majors after his Pawtucket start Friday. But even if Price comes back healthy and effective, the Sox could use a sense of reliability from their No. 6 starter, so to speak. And even their fifth, if you want to really get ambitious.

Lefty Drew Pomeranz is set to throw a bullpen tomorrow after his left triceps scare Sunday. Maybe Pomeranz is fine. But he’s also hard to believe in as a long term option right now, if for no other reason than his history of health issues.

Velazquez was a smart, low-risk signing by the Sox that might not prove fruitful right away, if ever. But if it doesn’t work out this go-around, the 2017 Sox don’t have many other places to turn for rotation help aside from the trade market.

Strong Grapefruit League debut for Price

Strong Grapefruit League debut for Price

David Price's Grapefruit League debut was nearly perfect.

The Red Sox left-hander pitched four scoreless innings, allowing a hit and a walk and striking out five in a 7-5 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays in Fort Myers, Fla.

Price threw 55 pitches, 34 for strikes. He cruised through the first on nine pitches. He allowed the single and walk in the second.  

"It feels good. This is March 15 and I've never been able to have a four-pitch mix on March 15," Price told reporters after his start. "I've never been this far along in spring training even though I've only thrown in one game. I'm excited about that."

The Red Sox open March 29 at Tampa Bay, with Chris Sale likely to start. Price will likely pitch the second game of the season, March 30 at Tropicana Field.