FORT MYERS, Fla. – Future members of the Red Sox bullpen were on display Wednesday in minor league games, with Alfredo Aceves absolutely dominating.
Aceves started for Pawtucket and threw five perfect innings, striking out nine.
“Probably the most impressive outing I’ve seen over five innings,” Pawtucket Manager Arnie Beyeler said.
Aceves will likely be the Pawsox’s opening-day starter. One of the first relievers out of the bullpen could be Hideki Okajima, who also pitched Wednesday, allowing one hit over one inning.
Left-hander Andrew Miller, also scheduled for the Pawtucket staff, got in his work by starting for the Sea Dogs. He threw four innings, striking out six, allowing three hits (one homer) and two walks.
THE CATCHING scenario with the Red Sox took a turn late Tuesday night when the Red Sox traded pitcher Daniel Turpen to Colorado for minor league catcher Michael McKenry.
To make room for McKenry on the 40-man roster, the Red Sox designated catcher Mark Wagner for assignment. Wagner can now be picked up by another team, traded, or possibly re-signed by Boston to a minor league deal.
McKenry, 26, spent almost all of last year in Triple-A, batting .265. He was called up late to the Rockies and played six games.
The move was an obvious indication that Boston wasn’t comfortable with Wagner being the No. 3 catcher in the system. He caught 11/2 seasons in Portland before being promoted to Pawtucket midway through the 2009 season. He batted .214 over 43 games and, in 2010, was limited to 36 games (.205) because of a broken bone in his hand.
“I was looking forward to having a year with (Wagner) and us helping each other out,” said former Sea Dogs catcher Luis Exposito, Pawtucket’s other catcher. “It’s out of my control. It’s out of his control. Hopefully the acquisition helps everybody out.”
Turpen, 24, was acquired from San Francisco last summer in the Ramon Ramirez deal. He pitched 18 innings for the Sea Dogs (4.91 ERA). The Yankees picked him in the Rule V draft in the offseason and he was returned to Boston two weeks ago.
SHORTSTOP JOSE IGLESIAS is still with Pawtucket. While Iglesias could still be sent down to Portland, he’s expected to remain with the Triple-A club as the Red Sox groom him for his entry into the major leagues.
Assuming Iglesias stays in Triple-A, the Portland Sea Dogs’ starting shortstop could be Ryan Dent, 21, a supplemental-round draft pick in 2007. Dent has yet to have a breakout season. He hit .225 in advanced Class A Salem last year.
LEFT-HANDER KRIS JOHNSON has been slowed by shoulder tendinitis this spring, but is scheduled to pitch two innings in a Class A game today. Johnson, 26, a supplemental-round pick in 2006, pitched for the Sea Dogs in 2008 (3.63) but has struggled in Pawtucket since (combined 5.50 ERA).
Still considered a prospect with good stuff, Johnson will eventually emerge in Pawtucket’s bullpen.
ZACH DAEGES was in a familiar spot Wednesday — watching a game in Fort Myers.
Daeges, 27, led the Sea Dogs in 2008 with a .307 batting average. His career has since been one injury after another.
Daeges went to major league spring training in 2009 and then to Pawtucket. But he only played nine games because of an ankle injury that eventually required surgery to remove a bone.
In 2010, Daeges never got going and again required major surgery, this time for his shoulder.
Recovery has been slow, although Daeges began taking batting practice and throwing three weeks ago. But now he’s sitting and watching again.
“I had a setback where it flared up on me a little bit,” Daeges said. “I was hoping to be ready to go for the season. Maybe by the end of April I’m hoping to at least get at-bats.
“It’s been tough. I’m getting close, at times, to running out of patience. I don’t know how much longer I can take being on the DL. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I feel like I’m getting there.”
Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or: [email protected]