Thursday, April 24, 2014
Junichi Tazawa stepped out of the Sea Dogs clubhouse at Hadlock Field Thursday afternoon and uttered one word.
Tazawa, who spent most of the 2009 season in Portland (before eventually reaching the majors), knows it can be colder here - but he expected warmth in June, instead of the damp 57-degrees he was greeted with.
Tazawa is not officially activated onto the Sea Dogs roster, but he will be, having finished his rehab in Salem. Tazawa is coming back from Tommy John surgery.
While Tazawa's fastball is back to the 90's, he said his biggest obstacle now is throwing breaking balls. Asked to explain, Tazawa pointed to his head. After undergoing major surgery on his elbow, he is still looking for the confidence to pitch again.
When Tazawa is activated, it will cause a few other moves. First, he has to be re-added to the 40-man roster. That should be easy enough since reliever Rich Hill is out for the year and can be put on the 60-day disabled list (which is where Tazawa has been).
Next, Tazawa needs to move into the Sea Dogs rotation. He said he expects to pitch on Monday, which was the next scheduled start for Alex Wilson. Either Wilson is being moved up to Pawtucket - as has been speculated all month - or he is being pushed back a day.
Wilson, who was invited to major league spring training camp last February, seems a likely candidate for promotion. He has been in Portland since last June, and his fastball/slider combination has been outstanding recently. He has a 2.92 ERA, with 67 strikeouts in 74 innings.
Pawtucket won in extra innings on Thursday, on Daniel Nava's 10th-inning RBI double, scoring Matt Sheely.
The Sea Dogs lost, but Alex Hassan went 2-for-3 with a walk, upping his average to .340 and his on-base percentage to .455.
Salem pitcher Drake Britton was put on a strict pitch count and threw two scoreless innings, (1 H, 2 BB, 3 K) ... Kolbrin Vitek, last year's first-round pick, hit his first home run this year and is batting .268.
The near-daily report on Greenville first baseman Miles Head has him going 2-for-4 Thursday with a triple. The average is up to .344.
Greenville catcher Christian Vazquez (.278) hit two home runs in the game. Vazquez was the third catcher drafted in the first nine rounds by Boston in 2008, after Ryan Lavarnway and Tim Federowicz.
Sea Dogs starter Michael Lee, on rehab in Lowell, pitched 5 innings (3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K).
Jon Lester starts for Boston tonight in Pittsburgh. Stolmy Pimentel pitches for the Sea Dogs in Manchester, N.H.
Kevin Thomas covers baseball and basketball for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. He wisely moved to Maine in 1994 after working for the St. Petersburg Times. He is married to Nancy and they have nine children.
Follow his thoughts on the Boston Red Sox and Portland Sea Dogs on Clearing the Bases
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