Michael Bowden was the first PawSox starter to be moved to the bullpen. Felix Doubront was next. And now we can add Robert Coello to the list.
(photos courtesy of Kelly o’Connor)
The 25-year-old righty tossed 6 scoreless innings with 9 strikeouts in his last start in a 12-0 win over Durham, but Robert’s next outing will come in relief as LHP Rich Hill takes his place in the PawSox rotation.
Coello is 3-5 with a 4.56 ERA, but the league is only batting .211 against him (right-handed batters are hitting .155) and he has 61 strikeouts in 47.1 IP (11.6 per 9 IP). His stuff might be better suited to a bullpen role instead of a starting spot.
“We think that there are some guys that you can transition into the bullpen mid-season and there are some guys that you can’t,” PawSox manager Torey Lovullo said. “It’s like trying to make a third baseman into a first baseman mid-stream and sometimes it’s hard to do. But I think those guys are smart enough to know that the Boston Red Sox didn’t go out and make any deals for relief pitchers and we shuttled them to the bullpen for one reason: Because we believe in them.”
I did a TV interview with Bowden on Thursday, and when I introduced him as “relief pitcher Michael Bowden,” I could tell that it still sounded strange to him after spending his first 5 ½ professional seasons as a starter.
“It does sound different, but I’m getting used to it,” Bowden said. “In September of last year while I was up in the big leagues, I learned a lot from the guys, asked a lot of questions, and got a good routine. When I got the news that I was moving to the bullpen, it was a very smooth transition and I felt like I really didn’t skip a beat. I’m still learning, but I feel really comfortable out there.”
When healthy, the Red Sox rotation of Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey, and Daisuke Matsuzaka certainly ranks among the best in baseball. The first four are signed through 2014, and Matsuzaka is signed through 2012. Did Bowden feel stuck as a starter is the Red Sox organization?
“It’s tough to answer that question,” Michael said. “I started off the year not pitching very well so I didn’t feel like I should have an opportunity, so that was the last of my worries. But I’m a realist and I know it was going to be difficult to break into a rotation like that. I feel like this has created a great opportunity for me and if I keep on performing down here, I’ll get a chance to go up there and help the team win.”
In 9 relief outings for Pawtucket, Bowden is 2-0 with 1 save and a 2.19 ERA. Doubront has pitched once in relief and tossed 2 scoreless innings with a pair of strikeouts.
“Those two guys are full of character, and blood and guts, and they want to go out there and do whatever they can to help the team win,” Lovullo said. “On top of that, their stuff plays whether they are starters or bullpen guys. In fact, in those two cases we’ve seen their stuff play up. When I say that, I mean their fastball velocity is a little harder and the breaking ball is a little sharper.”
We’ll find out soon is the same if true of Robert Coello.
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We’ve all heard the old philosophical question, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”
Here’s the 2010 version: “If an admitted steroid user hits his 600th career home run should baseball fans cheer?” Or care?
When Alex Rodriquez reached that milestone this week, most fans – at least outside of the Bronx – greeted the news with a yawn.
Rodriguez broke into the major leagues with Seattle in 1994 which happened to be the season that Torey Lovullo played for the Mariners. They were not teammates because they were exchanged for each other on the active roster. When A-Rod got promoted to the big leagues, Lovullo was sent to Triple-A (and vice-versa).
I asked Torey what he thinks of admitted cheaters like A-Rod, reaching cherished baseball milestones.
“It’s a tough question for me to answer,” Lovullo said. “It would be easy for me to sit here and bash players that group of players. I knew that I was competing against guys that were taking steroids. It was kind of a little fraternity where you didn’t say much outside of the clubhouse as to what was going on. I was very proud of the fact that I gave everything that I had with my God-given abilities and competed against a lot of players that were using. Alex Rodriguez is a tremendous player and it’s a well-deserved honor. He’s done a lot of great things with his ability and he should be proud of that.”
Was Torey tempted to use steroids during his playing career?
“I had somebody confront me with it one time and I thought long and hard about it,” Lovullo admitted. “I had some discussions with myself for a night before I decided that God blessed me with the ability to be a major league baseball player without the assistance of steroids. Today I feel very good about that decision.”
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The PawSox will look for their 4th straight win on Friday night as they host Scranton/WB at 7:05.
I hope you’ll join us for radio coverage beginning at 6:50 on the PawSox radio network and pawsox.com.
And if you can’t make it out to McCoy Stadium on Saturday night at 6:05, you can catch that game throughout New England on NESN. I’ll be making my NESN debut alongside Ken Ryan, as I’ll pinch-hit for Eric Frede.
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