Thornburg, Shaw on opposite sides of coin

Players who were traded for each other meet former teams in series

Thornburg, Shaw on opposite sides of coin

MILWAUKEE -- Travis Shaw and Tyler Thornburg, who were traded for each other in December, have opposite emotions as they get set to face their former teams for the next three days.

Shaw, the ex-Red Sox, is highly motivated to face the team he came up with. His enthusiasm for this series is aided by a hot start that brings back memories of the way he hit for Boston last April and May.

"As a competitor, you want to prove to the team that didn't want you -- you want to prove them wrong," Shaw said. "They didn't want me anymore. Milwaukee did. I want to make Milwaukee look smart for dealing for me."

Then there is Thornburg, the setup reliever the Red Sox acquired for Shaw, although he hasn't thrown a pitch this season. Thornburg is trying to build back up from a right shoulder impingement that plagued him for most of Spring Training, and has taken longer to come back than he expected. Being reduced to spectator status for this series is tough to swallow for Thornburg.

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"Yeah, I mean, it [stinks]," said Thornburg, of not being active this series. "I'm not even going to lie about it. But I'm trying to not exactly think about things like that. It definitely gets a little bit tough mentally, but I'm trying to stay in as good a mindset as possible right now. I'm definitely excited to be back here and see all the guys."

Shaw was drafted by the Red Sox in the ninth round in 2011. Thornburg was a selection of the Brewers as a third-rounder in 2010.

"I did know that we were coming here when I looked at the schedule and saw what Interleague teams we were playing," said Thornburg. "I was kind of hoping it would be one of those series where I pitched really well. Like I said before, it's tough not to pitch here."

Shaw also admits to circling this series on his calendar quite a while ago.

The first time the Red Sox are in Milwaukee since 2003 happens to be Shaw's first year with the Brewers.

"I looked at the schedule, obviously, when I got traded, and saw they were coming in. I knew this would be a fun series," Shaw said.

The left-handed-hitting Shaw batted cleanup for the Brewers on Tuesday and entered the series with seven homers, more than any player on the Red Sox. It was also not lost on Shaw that the Red Sox have had a lack of production and a rash of injuries at third base so far this season.

"I mean, you hear it, you see that you guys write about it a little bit," Shaw said. "Obviously I'm still connected with a lot of Boston media and a lot of the players over there, so you see what's going on over there. I'm just trying to do what I need to do here and continue to produce, and continue to prove that I'm an everyday player, and hopefully this year I'll be a little bit more consistent as the season goes down."

As for Thornburg, he just wants to get back to pitching again. The first step will be getting cleared to throw off the mound.

"I've had a few days here and there where I've felt like, 'All right, now's the time I'm going to take off.' Then it kind of goes back down a little bit. But over the past week or so, it's really started to improve a lot," Thornburg said.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.