ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The deal that sent Jake Peavy to the Giants Saturday left the Red Sox looking to fill his spot in the rotation for Sunday.
There were plenty of options.
Brandon Workman had been more than reliable when he’d gotten the call from the Sox this season, but he had just pitched six innings of one-run ball for Triple A Pawtucket on Thursday.
Anthony Ranaudo has been dominant for the PawSox this season, piling up 99 strikeouts in 119⅓ innings, but he had just thrown six shutout innings Friday.
When the Sox looked at it, the most logical choice was Allen Webster, who hadn’t pitched since Monday and was scheduled to work Saturday for the PawSox. Instead, Webster hopped on a flight to Florida to join the Red Sox for the finale of their three-game set with the Rays.
“Obviously it worked out well [since] Webbie’s day was going to be today in Pawtucket,” general manager Ben Cherington said before the Red Sox fell to the Rays, 3-0, on Saturday night at Tropicana Field. “So it was sort of an easy thing to push him back to [Sunday].”
Webster will get his first taste of major league action since a year ago, when he made eight appearances for the Red Sox, going 1-2 with an 8.60 ERA in 30⅓ innings. He’s been solid in 21 appearances with the PawSox this season, going 4-4 with a 3.10 ERA. He nearly earned a call-up this month when the Red Sox optioned Workman to Pawtucket, but it instead went to Rubby De La Rosa.
“At the time when Rubby came up, it was either Allen or Rubby, take your pick,” said Sox manager John Farrell. “[Webster] has been able to maintain the overall command of stuff better than a year ago, and has got another 20-plus starts under his belt at the Triple A level. When you look back last year, his year at Triple A was a very good one for us and he’s in the process of transitioning to our level here.”
How long Webster stays is still up in the air.
“We’ll kind of see where we go after this turn through the rotation,” Farrell said. “There’s been nothing set going forward from there.”
One of the factors in sending Peavy to the Giants along with cash for pitching prospects Edwin Escobar and Heath Hembree was the chance to give other young pitchers in the organization a chance to get major league experience, Cherington said.
“As we looked at the team, we felt like there was some opportunity and value in giving some innings to one of the younger starters,” Cherington said. “And we thought that we could be just as competitive as a team in doing that.”
Ranaudo has been making a case for himself all season, going 12-4 with a 2.41 ERA. Farrell said earlier in the month that Ranaudo would be among the pitchers the team considered if it needed someone to make a spot start, and that hasn’t changed.
“But he wasn’t the guy to take the slot tomorrow,” Farrell said.
Workman was sent down to Pawtucket after a run of three tough starts in late June and early July in which he went 0-3 with a 6.50 ERA. But in eight appearances (five starts) before that, he was 1-0 with a 2.88 ERA.
“Workman’s been up a couple times and done a good job. I think it’s fair to say that we’d like to find opportunities to get him back at some point,” Cherington said. “We don’t know exactly when that’ll be, but we’d like to do that.
“There may be other guys that we look to get opportunities for, but we’re not quite there yet and I’d rather not speculate on specific names.”
A nice haul
Moving players for prospects at the deadline is a different feeling for Cherington — “It’s not fun,” he said — but he was pleased with pulling in two of the Giants’ top 10 prospects for Peavy.
Between Escobar, a 22-year-old lefty with a three-pitch mix, and Hembree, a 25-year-old righthander who fits the prototypical reliever’s mold, Cherington said they add to the Sox’ depth in the minor leagues.
In the Pacific Coast League, where numbers tend to skew toward offense, Escobar went 3-8 with a 5.11 ERA and Hembree went 1-3 with a 3.89 ERA and 18 saves.
Escobar rose quickly through the Giants’ system, tearing through Single A and Double A, and earned a trip to this year’s Futures Game during All-Star Game weekend.
“We like the physicality, we like the fact that he’s lefthanded, he’s got three pitches, he’s got good peripherals this year even despite the ERA being a little bit higher,” Cherington said. “He’s a guy that can pitch his fastball; he gets misses. We just like his chances to be a good major league pitcher.
“He probably needs a little bit more time in Triple A before he is that. So he sort of gets added to our group of starting pitching prospects and depth and he’ll go to Pawtucket and go into the rotation there.”
Hembree, the Giants’ fifth-round pick in 2010, has some major league experience, making nine appearances for the Giants last season. He dealt with a flexor-tendon strain in his pitching elbow in 2012 that limited him to 44 appearances and kept him out of the Triple A All-Star Game that year. But with 46 strikeouts in 39⅓ innings this season, he earned a berth on the PCL All-Star team. He also has an option remaining should the Sox need it.
“Heath is a little bit older, obviously, and a little bit further along in his development,” Cherington said. “He’s had a little bit of major league experience already. He’s a reliever. We see him as a reliever. Heavy fastball, sinker. Sort of classic reliever look.
“He’s a big, physical guy. High strikeout rate throughout his minor league career, which is something we value, the ability to miss bats. So he’ll go to Triple A also and go into the bullpen there. He’s a guy that we see competing for a spot in our bullpen at some point in the future.”
Ross is OK
Farrell said catcher David Ross came out of Friday night’s game fine after making his first start since dealing with pain in his right heel while running the bases in Toronto on Tuesday. Ross got the day off Saturday night and was scheduled to catch Peavy Sunday. Christian Vazquez will now handle catching Webster, his former teammate at Pawtucket. Ross is dealing with plantar fasciitis in his right heel and will get the day off before catching Monday and Wednesday. Ross could get an injection on his foot after the game Wednesday with the team off on Thursday . . . Shane Victorino got a day off after playing four straight games. He went 7 for 17 (.438) with a home run and two RBIs in that stretch and was available off the bench. Farrell said he met with the right fielder before the game to reiterate the team’s intent to make sure it monitors his health with Victorino being just a week removed from the disabled list with hamstring and back issues. But Victorino insisted he was healthy enough to play if needed. “He was adamant,” Farrell said. “He goes, ‘Hey, I’m available at any point in time during the game.’ So I think that indicates he’s feeling pretty good physically.” . . . The PawSox extended their franchise-record winning streak to 11 games by defeating Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, 8-5, in Moosic, Pa., on Saturday night. Will Middlebrooks, playing in his eighth game of a rehab stint, went hitless in five at-bats while playing third base. Center fielder Mookie Betts homered and drove in two runs, and shortstop Deven Marrero went 4 for 4 with three RBIs.Julian Benbow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.