FORT MYERS, Fla. — Major League Baseball is planning to stay with 26-man rosters on Opening Day with a maximum of 13 pitchers.
The league will canvass general managers in a few weeks to determine if an additional pitcher is required to account for the shortened spring training caused by the lockout.
But for now, teams are planning on 13 with the understanding that the first few weeks could be a little dicey until everybody gets stretched out.
If the Red Sox emerge from April in good shape, Nick Pivetta may be one of the primary reasons.
The 29-year-old righthander has been pitching regularly for a month to make sure he’ll be ready for the start of the season. He also helped organize group workouts with Chris Sale, Matt Barnes, Austin Davis, and several minor league pitchers at nearby Florida Gulf Coast University.
Christian Vazquez and Jackie Bradley Jr. also took part, as did some of the Minnesota Twins players who live in the area.
“It was a group effort, but I made sure everybody was on the same page,” Pivetta said. “I was concerned about making sure guys could get their work in.”
Sale was an All-American at FGCU and is a major donor to the program, so the players had all the access they required at Swanson Stadium, which is only 8 miles from Fenway South.
The Eagles also provided a few catchers and some hitters for what proved to be three live batting practice sessions.
“As the lockout happened, we all came together as a group and the communication became very, very strong,” Pivetta said. “We were all in it together to try and help each other just be prepared for the season.”
It wasn’t exactly what they would have been doing at Red Sox camp, but it was close.
“We all had an understanding of where we were at, what we were supposed to be at spring training, and what we needed to be to come into spring training and be prepared,” Pivetta said.
Pitching coach Dave Bush said the Sox gave their pitchers workout plans before the owners locked out the players Dec. 2. Then all communication was stopped.
Bush was aware of the FGCU workouts thanks to social media posts and said he was glad Pivetta took the initiative to bring the players together.
“I need to thank him for that,” Bush said.
Pivetta was 9-8 with a 4.53 earned run average over 155 innings last season. Only 52 pitchers reached that many innings last season and Pivetta is aiming to improve that by cutting down on his walk rate.
“I need to stay in the strike zone and compete in the strike zone,” he said.
Pivetta is 11-8 with a 4.36 ERA in 33 games for the Sox since he was acquired during the lost 2020 season from Philadelphia, along with righthander Connor Seabold for relievers Heath Hembree and Brandon Workman.
The trade is already an unqualified success for the Sox and could get even better if Pivetta remains an innings-eating starter. Last season, he said, was the foundation for success after an uneven four seasons with the Phillies.
If Pivetta and Nate Eovaldi each make 30-plus starts, the Sox can give Sale and Rich Hill extra rest when needed and supplement the rotation with Tanner Houck, Michael Wacha, and Garrett Whitlock.
James Paxton, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, has started a throwing program and could return in July.
Seabold, Cutter Crawford, and Josh Winckowski are minor league depth options.
“I’m going to be prepared to go as long as I can,” Pivetta said. “It’s the big leagues and every [game] counts. I’m not looking for pitch limits.”
Pivetta, an intense sort, was excited to be back at work.
“We have stuff we need to work on,” he said. “We tackle those things and then we move forward to the season.”