MASHANTUCKET, Conn. — Red Sox lefthander Drew Pomeranz revealed on Saturday that he had an injection of stem cells into his elbow shortly after last season ended.
The procedure, which Pomeranz acknowledged was experimental in nature, involved drawing cells from his hip bone and transferring them into a weak area of his elbow to promote healing.
“Just to kind of get the ball rolling for this year,” Pomeranz said. “I’ve felt great. Ready to go.”
But this adds another layer of concern to a situation that has steadily worsened for the Sox.
The Red Sox used their best pitching prospect, righthander Anderson Espinoza, to obtain Pomeranz from the San Diego Padres in July. Shortly after, Major League Baseball found that Padres general manager A.J. Preller withheld medical information about Pomeranz from the Sox.
MLB offered to rescind the trade but the Red Sox elected to keep Pomeranz, who was an All-Star with San Diego. Preller was eventually suspended for 30 days.
Pomeranz was 3-5 with a 4.68 earned run average in 13 starts for the Sox before being shut down for eight days with what was described his soreness in his forearm. When he returned, it was as a reliever.
Then came the injection. Pomeranz said he does not know any other pitcher who tried the therapy but read up on the procedure and decided to go ahead with permission from the team.
“You can rest and it probably would have been all right. This multiplies your chances,” Pomeranz said.
Pomeranz, if healthy, will be one of three starters competing for two spots in the rotation.
President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said the Sox were close to agreeing to a contract with Pomeranz, who is eligible for arbitration and as yet unsigned.
Left fielder Andrew Benintendi weighed 165-170 pounds when last season ended. He’s up to 185 now and feels better prepared for his second season in the majors.
“The main thing was overall to gain weight, put on some muscle and keep your speed,” Benintendi said. “It’s a long season. Obviously staying healthy is the main thing. I think that by adding some weight and staying mobile and flexible that overall it will help in the long run.”
After talking to the Red Sox strength and conditioning coaches, Benintendi decided to add more strength in the offseason.
“For me it’s tough to gain weight. I’ve been eating a lot and working out. It’s been tough,” he said.
Arbitration for Abad?
Dombrowski is not hopeful of signing lefthanded reliever Fernando Abad and predicted it would take an arbitration hearing to determine his salary for 2017.
Abad filed for $2.7 million with the Sox at $2 million. While such a gap would seem negotiable, no deal has been struck. Hearings will begin on Feb. 1 in St. Petersburg, Fla.
The Red Sox have not gone to a hearing with a player since 2002.
Abad pitched well for the Minnesota Twins last season before being traded to the Sox on Aug. 1 and subsequently struggling to a point that he was left off the postseason roster.
Abad pitched 12⅔ innings for the Sox and allowed nine runs on 13 hits and eight walks. But the Sox retained him, largely because he’s lefthanded.
Team president Sam Kennedy said the Sox are planning 6-8 concerts at Fenway Park this summer, down from 11 last year. Nothing has been scheduled, but the team is hoping to lure Drake to Fenway.
The Canadian hip-hop artist isn’t planning a summer tour, but Kennedy said the Sox were able to convince Pearl Jam to appear at Fenway last summer.
Kennedy said $9 million in improvements are being made at Fenway. There will be a new video board in right field geared toward the fans in the bleachers and Green Monster seats. The Sox also are expanding the dugouts and adding two rows of seats behind the plate.
Checking in on Ortiz
Three Red Sox officials — Dombrowski, Kennedy, team chairman Tom Werner — will visit the Dominican Republic next week to tour the organization’s academy there and compare it to others.
They also plan to meet with David Ortiz and discuss his role with the team moving forward. No, that role will not involve playing.
“We’re going to talk about what he may and may not want to do,” Kennedy said. “He said after the season he wanted to talk in January.”
Kennedy said Ortiz is interested in broadcasting and other business ventures beyond what role he takes with the Sox. Kennedy hopes Ortiz would consider some work on NESN, but he is sure to have network offers as well.
Rodriguez feels fine
Lefthander Eduardo Rodriguez, who injured his right knee while pitching in Venezuela on Dec. 27, said he feels fine and will be ready for spring training.
Rodriguez said the mound was wet and he slipped, jarring his knee. He injured the same knee in spring training last season.
Rodriguez would like to pitch in the World Baseball Classic but did not seem optimistic.
“I would say most likely he will not be,” Dombrowski said. “We still have to tackle that. We need to sit down with him and talk.”
Hunting for depth
Dombrowski said the Red Sox want to supplement the spring training roster with veteran players signed to minor league contracts. Starting pitchers and an outfielder are the priority. The problem has been convincing players they’ll get a chance given the team’s deep roster . . . “I want to be ready for the Red Sox,” said David Price when asked why he turned down a spot with Team USA for the WBC. “I’d rather win a World Series than a WBC gold medal. I’m devoted to this team.” Craig Kimbrel also opted to stay with the Sox for spring training instead of joining the US.