CLEARWATER, Fla. — Brayan Bello won’t be ready for the start of the season after his buildup was slowed in mid-February by forearm soreness. But in his first and likely only Grapefruit League appearance of the spring Sunday, the righthander offered a dazzling glimpse of the potential impact he can make when he does join the Red Sox rotation.
Bello fired two perfect innings at BayCare Ballpark, striking out three Phillies minor leaguers and retiring three more on groundouts. His fastball sat 95-97 miles per hour, and both his changeup and slider dove out of the zone in ways that flummoxed his opponents. How’d he feel?
“Super, super, super bien,” he said.
Bello said he enjoyed applying some of the wisdom of mentor Pedro Martinez by pitching inside without fear. He needed just 25 pitches to mow through six batters.
“It was really cold, so I wanted to make quick work of it,” Bello deadpanned through translator Daveson Pérez.
Since Bello (4.71 ERA in 57⅓ innings as a rookie in 2022) resumed throwing in late February, there’s been no evidence of tentativeness or lingering discomfort. He looked entirely at ease on the mound Sunday.
“He threw a lot of strikes with all his pitches, no panic. He acts like he belongs here,” said manager Alex Cora. “We learned that last year. It was good for him to get out there and now it’s just about his progression.”
In the coming weeks, Bello will build his workload by pitching in minor league games — first in spring training, then likely in a season-opening assignment with an affiliate. It’s conceivable he could be ready to join the Red Sox by late April, with the pitcher harboring considerable optimism about 2023.
“With everything I learned last year added on to everything I learned with Pedro in the offseason, what I’ve learned in spring training . . . I think it’s going to be a really good year,” he said.
Noah Song is searching with Phillies
Noah Song made a dazzling first impression after the Red Sox took him in the fourth round out of the Naval Academy in 2019. But when the righthander did not receive a waiver to pursue a professional baseball career after that season, he enrolled in flight school, his focus on his military service rather than baseball from 2020–22.
The Phillies took a chance in December on the possibility Song would be allowed to resume his baseball career, selecting him from the Sox in the Rule 5 draft. The Navy, in turn, cleared Song to pitch — while serving in the reserves — in February.
He’s now in big league camp with the Phillies, though he is currently sidelined by back stiffness. Unsurprisingly, Song, 25, said he’s still far from the player he was when he was last pitching.
“It’s just been a very long time,” Song said from the Phillies clubhouse. “I did know that there was going to be a lot of work as far as getting back into throwing shape.”
To keep Song in their system, the Phillies must add him to their 40-man roster and keep him on their major league roster all season — with a minimum of 90 days on the active roster. If he is removed from the big league roster at any point, he’d be placed on waivers. If left unclaimed, he’d be offered back to the Red Sox with a chance of resuming his pitching career with his original team in the minors.
“I’m not oblivious to the fact. I know that there’s a possibility that I can be returned to Boston,” said Song. “But to be honest, I try not to look into the details of it because I don’t want to get caught up in trying to plan out my own future when it’s really outside my control . . . My goal is to come here and try to get better at throwing every day. It’s not to try to worry about the rules of the Rule 5 draft.”
Joely Rodríguez sidelined
Lefthander Joely Rodríguez, who grabbed his right side and left the game after throwing a pitch Saturday, will undergo imaging Monday to determine the precise nature of an injury. Even before those tests, the Sox anticipate he’ll open the year on the injured list. Cora identified 23-year-old Oddanier Mosqueda (one run, seven strikeouts in 5⅓ innings this spring) and 32-year-old Ryan Sherriff (4⅓ scoreless innings, six strikeouts) as potential lefthanded bullpen options in Rodríguez’s absence. Alternately, Cora said the team could use the spot to carry an extra multi-innings reliever at the start of the year, when rotation members will have limited workloads. He ruled out using lefties Brandon Walter or Chris Murphy as relievers. Both are expected to open the year in the WooSox rotation . . . Justin Turner is slated to return to the lineup as the designated hitter in Monday’s game at JetBlue Park against the Pirates. With Garrett Whitlock making his first start of the spring, Opening Day starter Corey Kluber will pitch in a minor league game . . . Yu Chang is expected back in Sox camp on Monday after missing roughly a week due to visa issues while traveling back from the WBC. Might that downtime impact the infielder’s readiness for the start of the season? “We hope not,” said Cora. “Hopefully he gets here [Monday] because it’s getting late” . . . The Sox acquired minor league infielder Ángel Pierre from the Royals to complete the January trade that sent lefty Josh Taylor to Kansas City for injured infielder Adalberto Mondesi. Pierre, 19, hit .300 with a .974 OPS in the Dominican Summer League in 2022.