Red Sox expect Chris Capuano to flourish
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Chris Capuano has made only 29 relief appearances over nine seasons in the majors. But it’s a role in which Red Sox manager John Farrell expects him to flourish.
The lefthander arrived here Friday afternoon and is expected to be added to the roster on Saturday. The 35-year-old West Springfield native was signed to a $2.25 million contract Thursday.
Farrell said Capuano would be prepared as a starter and move into the bullpen if he were not needed in the rotation.
“Experience of both starting and pitching out of the bullpen. Clearly gives us a depth starter if that need were to arise,” Farrell said. “But at the moment, all things considered, he would pitch out of the bullpen for us.”
Capuano has a 3.42 ERA and 1.27 WHIP as a reliever, better than the marks (4.31 and 1.34) he has as a starter. In 4⅔ scoreless innings out of the bullpen for the Dodgers in 2013, Capuano allowed four hits with one walk and seven strikeouts.
The Red Sox could start the season with three lefties — Capuano, Craig Breslow, and Andrew Miller — in their bullpen.
“In our division [it will help] quite a bit when you consider the lineups,” Farrell said.
Farrell pointed out that Breslow and Miller were effective against righthanded batters last season, giving the bullpen sufficient balance.
Capuano would appear best suited for the swingman role that Brandon Workman also could fill. But with Opening Day more than five weeks away, Farrell isn’t concerned about how the pieces will fit yet.
“I could give you an answer but three weeks from now things could change,” Farrell said. “I can’t say one person will be any more affected than another. Depending on who’s available, guys needing extra time to get ready for the season, unforeseen injuries, anything can happen.”
Red Sox president Larry Lucchino was pleased to note the contrast between how the Sox built their roster as opposed to the Yankees.
“We’re very different animals. I’m proud of that difference. I always cringe when people lump us together, other baseball teams sometimes do that. They are still, this year at least, relying heavily on their inimitable old-fashioned Yankee style of high-priced, long-term free agents. I can’t say I wish them well, but I think we have taken a different approach.’’
Yankees president Randy Levine quickly snapped back at Lucchino.
“I feel bad for Larry; he constantly sees ghosts and is spooked by the Yankees,” Levine told the New York Daily News. “But I can understand why, because under his and Bobby Valentine’s plan two years ago, the Red Sox were in last place. Ben Cherington and the Red Sox did a great job last year winning the World Series.”
Levine then said he was confident the Yankees would “compete with a great Red Sox team to win a world championship this year.”
The Big O
Henry Owens, a 21-year-old lefthander who is 6 feet 7 inches, was the center of attention for the first session of live batting practice. He faced Jonny Gomes and Will Middlebrooks and allowed only a few well-struck balls.
Owens was a supplemental first-round pick in 2011 and is naturally known as “Big O.” He ended last season with Double A Portland.
“It was tough seeing him one time around. From a stuff standpoint, he had a good changeup and that’s a good start,” Gomes said. “His hook was strong. He’s so tall. A lefty pitching down like that is tough.
“A guy that big, it’s almost another pitch when it’s from an angle like that. This kid is so over the top, it’s even more challenging. It’s there.”
Gomes has been impressed with the young pitching talent in camp.
“It’s a big tribute to the scouts,’’ he said.
The Juanchi drill
The Red Sox have a bunt defense drill named “The Juanchi” after pitching coach Juan Nieves. The pitchers rotate through the positions on the infield, the idea being to learn what each player is responsible for. So a fan passing by Field 6 on Friday would have seen Andrew Miller at shortstop, John Lackey at second, Jon Lester at third, Jake Peavy playing first, and Koji Uehara catching . . . Dustin Pedroia said his days of diving into first base are finished after tearing a ligament in his left thumb. “Did it twice in my career. Once was too many,” he said . . . Lucchino praised baseball for adding more instant replay. Now he hopes the pace of the game will be improved. “I think that’s kind of — and I don’t want to be overly dramatic here — but kind of a dagger pointed at the heart of baseball and we can’t afford to avert our eyes from it,” Lucchino said. The commissioner’s office has asked some teams, including the Red Sox, to come up with ideas to increase the pace of play. He mentioned enforcing the rule-book definition of the strike zone as one method. “The game is a beautiful game. The randomness, the dailiness, the unpredictability of it makes it such a great game,” he said. “Its history makes it a great game. But that doesn’t mean we couldn’t change a few rules here and there every once in a while without it being such a dangerous road to hoe.”