Ziegler throws scoreless frame in Sox debut

Ziegler throws scoreless frame in Sox debut

BOSTON -- The freshest addition to the Red Sox's bullpen, right-hander Brad Ziegler, recorded an eight-pitch ninth in a 4-0 victory on Sunday over the Rays at Fenway Park in the final game before the All-Star break.

Ziegler dominated the heart of the Rays' order with back-to-back strikeouts. The one-pitch grounder that followed was his fastest sling of the inning -- an 85-mph sinker to Logan Morrison. Ziegler used the Boston faithful's loud welcome to his advantage.

"Lot of adrenaline," Ziegler said. "Fans, I'm grateful for the reception they gave me when they announced me. It was a lot of fun. It was everything you dream of when you think about putting on a Red Sox uniform and playing at Fenway. To be able to close out a game and end the first half on a good note was fun."

The 36-year-old reliever brings age and experience to a young Red Sox team. Ziegler played for the A's before going to the D-backs in 2011, posting a 2.49 ERA over 571 appearances in the nine-year span.

"You know, [I hope to bring] a little different look," Ziegler said. "Probably a lot different than everybody else down there. Just a lot of experience, and hopefully help out some young guys here and there and pitch some tough innings here and there, and just do what I can to help this team win."

That unique look features Ziegler's distinct sidearm delivery. The reliever said he picked it up in 2007 as a starter in the Minor Leagues for the A's. Ziegler said he used to work on the delivery more frequently but has gotten comfortable with the toss as of late.

Red Sox manager John Farrell said his pitching style and effectiveness against right-handed batters will come in handy when Boston faces off against American League East rivals Toronto and Baltimore in the second half of the season.

Ziegler was happy to pitch the ninth inning as he'll enjoy time off during the All-Star break.

"I hadn't thrown the last three days," Ziegler said. "If I didn't pitch today, I was going to have eight days off, so it was nice to get that first one out of the way, keep my arm in good shape. I'll do a little work over the break and be ready to go Friday night."

Entering Sunday, Ziegler was 2-3 with a 2.82 ERA in 36 appearances this season, converting 18 of 20 save opportunities and finishing 30 games with 27 strikeouts and only one home run allowed.

The righty closed games for Arizona, and with Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel on the 15-day disabled list due to a tear in his left knee, he might get the chance to continue that role in Boston.

However, following Saturday's win against the Rays, Farrell said right-hander Koji Uehera will fill Kimbrel's empty closer spot and the Red Sox will go to Ziegler when Uehara's unavailable. That could mean adjusting to a different workload for Ziegler.

Ziegler shuts the door

"There, I was really closing all year," Ziegler said. "It wasn't a super-high workload. You can manage it a lot easier as a closer than as a middle guy. Here, like I said, they'll fill me in on that, and I'll do whatever they need me to do. I've gotten pretty good at managing myself warming up so that I don't do too much. If I don't get in the game, then I'm good to go the next night."

The trade to Boston came as a surprise for the righty. A week ago, Arizona had reached out to the reliever about signing an extension with the club.

"You know, I'm open to whatever. Just kind of come back to me with something and let me know,'" Ziegler had told the D-backs. "And the next time I heard from them, I was traded. I know it's the nature of the game, it's part of the business, but that's part of why I was surprised and caught off guard by how it really happened."

However, his shock may be dissipated with the help of a former teammate: Aaron Hill. Before the Red Sox acquired Hill from the Brewers, he and Ziegler arrived in Arizona a month apart from each other. But that wasn't their first meeting as Hill and Ziegler played against each other during college ball at Cape Cod.

Hill's RBI single in the 8th

"It's awesome," Ziegler said. "Hilly and I, we were really good friends the three or four years [in Arizona]. We'd go to breakfast on the road, hang out, golf, whatever. We got to be pretty good friends, which I think is pretty unusual for pitchers and hitters to connect like that. I've just been around him a long time. It's fun to be in the same locker room as him, for sure."

Ziegler said playing in Cape Cod gave him a taste of the Northeast, so his move to Boston wasn't a culture shock for the reliever. He's looking forward to playing in the atmosphere of Fenway Park, remembering its unique character as a visitor.

The reliever said he's not one to be bothered by the pressure of playing for a big-market team.

"Ideally, I'm just not giving up runs and they cheer for me," Ziegler said. "One way or another, I know at some point I'll probably give up some runs. You know what? That's part of the game. There's a lot of good that comes with this game, and if you can handle the good, then you've got to be able to handle the bad as well."

Deesha Thosar is a reporter for MLB.com based in Boston. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.