As righty deals with triceps strain, Red Sox No. 5 prospect to make first MLB appearance Tuesday
By Alec Shirkey
BOSTON -- Rick Porcello's first season with the Red Sox has not gone smoothly. Before the Red Sox's 4-3 loss to the Rays on Sunday, the struggling right-hander suffered another setback as the team placed him on the 15-day disabled list with a right triceps strain.
Porcello's issues, however, are not without a silver lining. Replacing him for Tuesday's scheduled start is left-hander Henry Owens, who will make his Major League debut in the Bronx against the Yankees' lefty-heavy lineup.
"One, we wanted to insert another starter and not move guys up," manager John Farrell said. "We wanted to provide an extra day of rest. So Tuesday is Henry's day. It's going to be probably the biggest stage he's going to make his debut on, [as] the schedule has it. But ideally having another left-hander go against that lineup in that ballpark [would give us an edge]."
Owens -- the organization's No. 5 prospect, according to MLB.com -- last pitched on Wednesday and will start on six days' rest. He owns a 3.16 ERA at Triple-A Pawtucket this season but has struggled with location at times, averaging 4.12 walks per nine innings.
"A lot more strikes. Repeating his delivery," Farrell said of Owens' recent performances. "Coming out of Spring Training, there was some work needed with just commanding his body as well as the baseball. And that's been the case over the last four weeks or more. In a nutshell, it's more quality strikes throughout the entire time he's on the mound."
Porcello, who signed a four-year, $82.5 million contract extension in April, is 5-11 with a 5.81 ERA through 20 starts. The 26-year-old's last outing was an especially rocky one -- the White Sox tagged him for six runs (five earned) and 10 hits over two-plus innings on Wednesday -- and Farrell revealed that Porcello began experiencing discomfort in the arm during that game.
Because Porcello's injury flared up only recently, the Red Sox are optimistic that he will not have to miss much time.
"He came out of his last start with soreness and inflammation in his triceps," Farrell said. "The best we could've done would be to push him back to Saturday to give him ample time. But [we] felt like that was going to be too much of a risk.
"We feel like it's a short-term thing, but at the same time we need to back him out of there, because he wasn't going to be able to throw a bullpen today. So while the symptoms are improving, there's still soreness there, so he is on the disabled list."
Porcello wants to return as soon as possible.
"I want to be out there, and I want to pitch," he said. "I want to work through whatever's going on out there and get back on track. The only way [to do] that is to pitch, not sitting on the bench. It's not like this is something like I wanted to take a breather or step away from the ball, that's not the case at all.
"[The triceps] is legitimately tight. Something happened. I felt it was going to be a couple of days, but in order to take the precautions to prevent anything further, they want me to make sure it's completely out of there."
Righty reliever Ryan Cook, acquired in a trade with the A's on Friday, took Porcello's place on the active roster.
Cook arrived in Boston late Saturday night and was made available for Sunday's series finale vs. the Rays.
"I'm excited to get over here. I got the call and couldn't get off the plane fast enough to get over here," Cook said.
A 2012 All-Star Game selection as a rookie, Cook spent much of his season to date at Triple-A Nashville after not making the A's roster out of Spring Training. He allowed five runs in 4 1/3 innings with Oakland and pitched to a 4.05 ERA in 30 appearances with Nashville.
The recent issues, he said, were mechanical ones that began plaguing him in March.
"This season was a little bit of a grind," Cook said. "Tried to change a few things up in Spring Training, and then doing so pushed me back. I had to kind of learn my delivery over again, and so it took a little bit longer than I wanted to. But I feel like I'm back where I need to be."
Alec Shirkey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.