The Red Sox made another significant round of cuts this morning, sending down four players, including Junichi Tazawa and Michael Bowden. Tazawa, who, as expected, will start the year in Double-A Portland, had a sterling camp with the Red Sox. Bowden never quite settled into a rhythm, and he’ll start this season where he ended last year, in Triple-A Pawtucket.
The full list:
Junichi Tazawa (optioned to Double A Portland)
Michael Bowden (optioned to Triple A Pawtucket)
Billy Traber (reassigned to minor league complex)
Marcus McBeth (reassigned to minor complex)
The Red Sox were not expecting the world from Tazawa, only 22 and going through his first experiences in a new country and a new level of baseball, having arrived from Japan’s Industrial League. He surpassed the team’s most optimistic hopes, allowing one run in nine innings. “Lights out,” manager Terry Francona said.
Tazawa walked one and struck out 10. He threw his curveball with precision and got batters to swing and miss. His 1.1-second delivery to the plate from the stretch is the fastest among all Red Sox pitchers. “You’ve got to get a bunch of hits to score off him,” Francona said. “You can't steal on him, and he doesn’t walk anybody.” The only thing he needs now is more experience, particularly with his wind-up delivery.
“He’s one of the most impressive things this entire camp,” pitching coach John Farrell said last week. “Not just from his physical abilities and the way he’s gone out there, but the way he’s handled himself in and around the entire spring training – the early bullpens, and really in early BP, when he was facing hitters in our lineup. He doesn’t back away from any challenges. He doesn’t become tentative. I think his natural confidence in his own ability has been very impressive.”
Bowden had a 7.59 ERA in 10 2/3 innings, not delivering on the promise he showed in his one big league start last season. Francona, though, said Bowden is the kind of pitcher whose delivery causes him to rev up slowly. He suspects Bowden will likely never produce great results in spring because his wind-up includes several moving parts.
“It’s not that fluid,” Francona said. “But he competes. I think he’s the guy that you send to his season, and he gets on that roll, and then you see what you have. You don’t evaluate too much on maybe what you didn’t see here.”
The Red Sox are down to 44 players in their major league camp, still a large number for this time of spring.