July 11, 2010

On Baseball: He's top-notch, no matter what the numbers may say

By Kevin Thomas kthomas@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Casey Kelly hasn't had as much professional experience as other heralded pitchers who have passed through Portland, and it shows. But he's learning how to pitch, and that's huge.

2010 Telegram file

"But I just think that's part of the development. It can't be about the numbers. That's what I tell all the guys."

But that doesn't make it easy to take sometimes.

Kelly allowed six runs over 51/3 innings Tuesday night, including a three-run homer on a hanging curveball.

Afterward he sat in front of his locker, his million-dollar arm wrapped in ice, his eyes staring downward.

Wednesday, Kelly was bouncing around Hadlock, smiling and chatting with teammates during batting practice.

"It's frustrating when you have a couple of pitches that you would want to change, and it affects your outing," Kelly said. "But for the most part, I just kind of look at it the next day and examine what went wrong and what I can change for next time.

"Just figure out ways how to get better for my next start."

Kelly's maturity and poise is a reason the Red Sox felt comfortable starting him in Double-A this season. Kelly is the son of a minor-league manager, Pat Kelly. Casey Kelly grew up around minor-leagues clubhouses. He understands what the minors are about.

"If you have a 1.00 ERA in the minor leagues, it really doesn't matter much," Kelly said. "A lot of times last year, I had so much success that I really didn't have to deal with failure.

"I'd much rather deal with failure here than in the big leagues."

And the failure hasn't slowed Kelly from developing. He's not trying to nibble around the plate with pitches -- a la Daisuke Matsuzaka -- trying to get hitters to chase.

For the most part, Kelly is throwing strikes, unafraid of the result.

"He's relentless in his willingness to attack the strike zone and pitch to contact," Kipper said.

Kelly also gets swings and misses. In 672/3 innings, he has 63 strikeouts and 28 walks.

In his last start, when he gave up six runs, Kelly struck out eight.

"He pounded the zone and went after guys," Portland Manager Arnie Beyeler said. "He's just a tough-luck guy right now.

"You're gong to run into that with the young guys. They're inconsistent. Things get a little quick on them and they struggle to minimize that one big inning."

So when Kelly makes his next start this afternoon, he may give up some runs, maybe a big inning.

But Kelly is learning. The numbers will get better, the outings more consistent.

Eventually, he will pitch in Fenway Park. Then Hadlock fans can boast that they knew all along that the kid was special.

Sometimes you have to ignore the numbers.

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

kthomas@pressherald.com

 

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