JUPITER, Fla. — Matt Barnes finished his work on the field, had lunch in the clubhouse, and went back to his apartment a few hours later.
His new team, the Miami Marlins, played his old team, the Red Sox, on Tuesday night. Because he pitched Monday, Barnes had the option to skip the game and he took it.
It has been a little more than a month since Barnes was designated for assignment by the Sox and later traded to the Marlins. It’s still an open wound for the 32-year-old righthander, who had spent his entire career with the franchise.
“I’m not mad and I don’t have any animosity toward the Red Sox organization because that organization represents so much more than who’s currently running it,” Barnes told the Globe.
Barnes mentioned being grateful to Sox ownership and longtime baseball operations staffers Brian O’Halloran, Raquel Ferreira, and Eddie Romero.
“But at the same time I don’t want to go over and be buddy-buddy with everybody,“ Barnes added. “I’ll save that for June when we play at Fenway.”
Conspicuously absent from his comments was chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, who made the decision to drop Barnes off the roster then swapped him for lefthander Richard Bleier.
The Sox sent Miami $5.5 million as part of the trade, such was their desire to move on from Barnes, who Bloom had signed to a two-year, $18.75 million extension only 18 months earlier. Barnes had a 4.95 earned run average and 1.49 WHIP for the Sox after agreeing to the extension, well off the All-Star form he showed in the first half of 2021.
He also spent 63 days on the injured list last season with what was described as shoulder inflammation after being hit very hard in his first 20 appearances.
Barnes had better surface statistics after coming off the injured list — a 1.59 ERA and six saves in seven chances. But opponents had an average exit velocity of 93 miles per hour in September, putting Barnes in the lower 6 percent among pitchers with at least 100 pitches.
“They told me I was lucky,” Barnes said. “Unfortunately, a lot of people in this game make decisions based on a spreadsheet.”
Now Barnes gets a fresh start with a young, talented team.
“It’s been great here so far. The guys are awesome; the staff is awesome,” Barnes said. “We have some really good talent on this team. I’ve seen that in a few weeks. As weird as it’s been, the adjustment has been pretty good. But it’s hard when you go from knowing everybody to knowing nobody.”
There’s also the uncertainty of what’s to come. Barnes will be a free agent after the season unless the Marlins pick up his $8 million option for 2024, which is unlikely for a team with a small payroll.
Barnes also is a good candidate to be traded if he pitches well and the team is out of playoff contention in July. The Marlins have some intriguing young talent but don’t compare with the Braves, Mets, and Phillies in the loaded National League East.
After spending 11½ years with the Red Sox organization, Barnes is experiencing a different side of baseball.
“I know I was fortunate to play as long as I did in Boston,” he said. “But I’ve got some good years left in me. We have a lot of talent in this clubhouse and we’re here to win.”
Yoshida on his way to Japan
Masataka Yoshida leaves camp Wednesday to join Japan for the World Baseball Classic. Japan will play two exhibition games before starting pool play against China on March 9 in Tokyo.
Manager Alex Cora met with Yoshida on Tuesday and told him to relay a message that the Sox would prefer he play left field in one game and be the designated hitter in the other. Yoshida shook his head and reminded Cora that Shohei Ohtani was Japan’s DH.
“We’ve just got to make sure he doesn’t play nine [innings] right away from the get-go,” Cora said. “They’ll take care of him and then the tournament starts.”
Healthy Paxton impresses
Cora mentioned James Paxton as a player who has impressed him. The lefthander, who has thrown only 21⅔ innings the last three seasons (none last season) because of injuries, appears completely recovered.
“He’s a ballplayer now,” Cora said. “There’s no talk about the elbow or the arm on the side. It’s baseball talk. He feels he’s right where he should be.”
Paxton, 34, is scheduled to start Friday against the Twins.
Pivetta faces hitters
Nick Pivetta, who was slowed down while recovering from COVID, faced hitters for two innings at Fenway South. His next appearance will likely be in a Grapefruit League game next week … Tuesday’s game was the first between the Sox and Marlins in the Grapefruit League since March 9, 2018.