Wednesday, April 16, 2014
BOSTON — The Fenway Park home team clubhouse is always crowded this time of season, but 2010 offers an unusual look.
Walk in and glance at the names atop the lockers: Felix Doubront, Ryan Kalish, Yamaico Navarro, Robert Coello, Lars Anderson.
Close your eyes and think back to April in the Portland Sea Dogs' clubhouse beyond the right-field wall at Hadlock Field.
All five players were there, starting the season in Portland.
Never has the Portland-to-Boston pipeline been so active.
"This is so awesome, having everyone here," said Kalish, who arrived in Boston on July 31.
Add to those five the recent call-ups of other former Sea Dogs, such as outfielders Josh Reddick and Daniel Nava and pitchers Michael Bowden and Dustin Richardson, and this is truly a Hadlock reunion.
Of course, this injection of young players into the majors would not be necessary if the Red Sox had not been leveled by injuries (a first baseman, second baseman and two outfielders at last count) and a faulty bullpen, which has shed some of its veterans (Manny Delcarmen, Ramon Ramirez and, eventually, Hideki Okajima).
So, is this a tryout for the kids or a chance to help the team?
Kalish, Navarro and Anderson were in Monday's lineup and the media blogs were cracking that Boston was raising a white flag. Then the Red Sox beat Tampa Bay 12-5, with Kalish clubbing a grand slam and Navarro adding a sacrifice fly.
None of the three were in Tuesday's lineup against left-hander David Price, but they will be ready, as will Coello.
"I'm here to get in my innings and help this team win," Coello said.
Coello made his major league debut Monday and it was forgettable. He retired only one of six batters, allowing three runs. But Boston already had a big lead, so no harm done.
"I didn't pitch with my strengths," said Coello. "I'll definitely turn the page and be ready when I get the ball again."
Coello could be an intriguing piece in a Boston bullpen that will be rebuilt in the offseason. Doubront and Bowden are the better-known prospects likely to eat up innings before Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon enter the game.
But Coello has 130 strikeouts in 107 innings in Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket. That is second in the Red Sox organization to Jon Lester, who has 196 strikeouts in 182 innings.
Coello was drafted in 2004 by Cincinnati as a catcher, but was released in 2006. The Angels signed him, noticed his strong arm and asked him to pitch.
"I kind of just got on the mound and started throwing," Coello said.
With a fastball, forkball, curveball and change-up, he did well in rookie ball that year (1.37 ERA), but the Angels gave up on him and Coello found himself in the independent leagues.
Boston signed him before the 2009 season. After spending that year in Class A, he began this season in Portland, but eventually entered the pipeline to Fenway.
"The whole season I've worked on becoming a major league pitcher," he said. "Just waiting for the call."
That call came last Saturday, a day before Anderson was informed of his promotion.
"I was all packed and ready to go home (to California)," Anderson said. "I had hopes of coming here, but I didn't have a real feeling (if it would happen) one way or another."
Anderson went 0 for 4 in his debut Monday. He said he wasn't nervous: "Excited, but calm."
Too much can be made of playing part time in September. The idea is to get these player acclimated to the majors. Bowden made his major league debut in 2008.
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