Change would be a relief for Delcarmen
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - There was a message Terry Francona wanted out there about Manny Delcarmen, the struggling reliever who has watched his ERA rise steadily, month by month. As the manager said in his pregame meeting yesterday, “We’re not going to give up on him.
“We talked to him about this the other day. We want him to pitch well, and he’s not going to pitch better by not pitching. At the same time, you can talk about mechanics and they need to [be there]. But also if it’s not working mechanically, you almost have to find a way to not make something up, but just compete and find a way to get through it.’’
Francona proved his point in last night’s game, bringing in Delcarmen to get the final out of the seventh inning. He entered with the bases loaded, the Sox down by five. But Delcarmen did get the out, a fly to center field.
“I would have rather [Paul Byrd] got out of the inning,’’ Francona said. “I thought there was more to gain than to lose by doing that. That’s why we did it.’’
Delcarmen started out extremely well this year, allowing just three earned runs over 22 innings in April and May. But his ERA has increased each month, starting with a 0.00 ERA in April, then 3.00 in May, 4.00 in June, 4.66 in July, 5.25 in August, and a whopping 21.60 in September. This month, he has allowed opponents a .455 batting average, giving up 10 hits and getting just 11 outs.
“In the last couple outings, the consistency of his command has not been what it’s been earlier in the year,’’ pitching coach John Farrell said. “The game in Baltimore, he didn’t show the ability to make adjustments within an at-bat, as he has done fairly consistently at other times during the year. [Monday] night, again, he’s a pitch away from getting out of the inning, putting up a zero, and then a walk takes place and a mislocated fastball.
“Part of that is getting him back over the rubber and getting the timing in his delivery to be more consistent when his body is out ahead of his arm, that’s when he has missed up in the zone, and at times overcompensated. That’s where you get the balls that are pulled back on the other side of the plate.’’
Delcarmen has given up at least one earned run in four of his last six outings before last night, often costing the Sox more than just the runs. On Monday night, for example, the Sox were hoping they would get at least one inning out of him. They got just two outs, and Daniel Bard was brought into the game earlier than planned. Bard eventually took the loss.
Kelly spent this season pitching and playing shortstop in the minor leagues, and the plan is to get him more at-bats in Arizona.
Because Kelly is young for the AFL (he turns 20 next month), he will be on the taxi squad for the Mesa Solar Sox. There are two shortstops with priority over him, the Sox’ Jose Iglesias and the Cubs’ Starlin Castro, so it is possible Kelly also could get some time at third base.
Kelly first will go to instructional league, then head to Arizona. It’s not optimal, since there is a good chance he won’t play every day, but he could make it onto the roster because of injuries or other unforeseen events.
“We want him to continue to develop and get more consistent,’’ director of player development Mike Hazen said. “Obviously we still need to see consistency on the offensive side of the game, but it’s not normal for any player of his age, etc., I think, and the same with the pitching.
“No one day or one program or one thing is going to decide the ultimate direction that we head in.’’
The Sox plan to sit down with Kelly at the conclusion of his season, likely in early December, and discuss the plan for him. Going to the AFL gives the Sox more exposure to him as a position player.
Amalie Benjamin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.