BOSTON - When Roenis Elias failed to make the Opening Day roster at the start of the season, it came as a shock and disappointment.
After all, Elias had spent the better part of the past two seasons with the Seattle Mariners and expected to be part of the Red Sox' pitching staff after being dealt to Boston last December.
"At first, I was confused,'' acknowledged Elias of being sent to the minors at the start of the season. "It was something that I wasn't used to, which is why I got off to such a rough start. I lost my first three, but I felt good. It's been a long road. It's been a learning process, but I put in the work and now I 'm here.''
Elias will make his first start for the Red Sox Friday night in an audition for a more permanent spot in the five-man rotation. For the past 2 1/2 weeks, the Sox had gone with just four starters, thanks to a run of off-days that allowed them to do so.
Now, the Sox need five starters and Elias hopes he's part of the equation.
"It's an amazing opportunity that the Red Sox have given me,'' said Elias. "I plan on making the most of it and leave it up to the team to hopefully give me the position that is available.''
Manager John Farrell praised Elias for correcting some of the flaws that dogged him through the first six weeks or so.
"Overall, he's repeating his delivery much more consistently, particularly against right-handed hitters,'' Farrell said. "He's maintained a consistent arm slot. That's allowed him to attack both sides of the plate with consistency.''
"I've made the adjustments that I needed to make at Triple A,'' said Elias.
"Working with [Pawtucket pitching coach Bob Kipper] has helped me a lot and looking at footage and making those adjustments is what has helped me thus far.''
Kipper made some specific recommendations to Elias after a poor first month, and once the lefty adopted them, he began a stretch that saw him compile a 2.50 ERA over the past five starts.
"The problem that Kip outlined to me was that my timing was off,'' said Elias. "I was getting into my delivery too fast and that was leading to a lot of walks early in the game and that hurt me later on. I talked to him, he gave me his idea and I told him what I thought and from that point, we found a happy medium and it started working.''
The opposition will be familiar to Elias, who draws his former team, the Mariners, Friday night.
"It's going to be a good experience, an interesting one,'' said Elias with a smile. "I'm looking forward to seeing my old teammates, [especially] Robinson Cano. He was one of the best teammates I had when I was there and I'm looking forward to facing him.
"I learned a lot from him. He told me how I should pitch to certain guys and where I should locate. We talked a lot in my time with Seattle.''