Schoeneweis set to show he's still got it

Schoeneweis set to show he's still got it

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Joining the Red Sox is a homecoming of sorts for Scott Schoeneweis. Although he grew up in New Jersey and now resides in Arizona, his mother was from the Boston suburb of Newton.

Schoeneweis still has relatives scattered throughout the region, and he grew up a Red Sox fan thanks to those family ties.

He distinctly remembers his first trip to Fenway Park, as a youngster with his dad. A foul ball was hit right to his seat, but Schoeneweis never got the memento coveted by many baseball fans because he was in the bathroom at the time.

"It's a special [place] for me," Schoeneweis said. "Came to Fenway as a little guy, all through my life growing up. It's always been a special place. I've always pitched well there, and I think it's just because I love it so much. I'm an East Coast guy, anyway. I enjoyed my time in New York [with the Mets], bought a house in Connecticut.

"I like the weather in Arizona, but everything else, I'm an East Coast guy. So this should be pretty special."

Schoeneweis, now 36, signed a Minor League contract with Boston on Friday, arriving in the Red Sox's clubhouse Saturday morning. The left-handed reliever had been in camp with the Brewers, in Arizona, appearing in seven games as a non-roster invitee.

"He's kind of pretty much up to speed on everything," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona, with the team in Sarasota, Fla., for Saturday's game against the Orioles. "It's not like he's got to get in shape. He showed up this morning. He'll probably throw a light side [session] today to kind of get that airplane day out of his system, and he'll pitch Monday.

"I haven't even seen Schoeneweis yet, but the one thing he's been able to do is get left-handers out. We'll see. We'll just try to cover everything. We have Alan [Embree] here. We know it's going to be kind of a short look. That's why we're trying not to mess around and prolong it. We want him to be able to get out there and pitch a few times so we can make some good decisions."

Schoeneweis, who is scheduled to make his first appearance for the Red Sox on Monday night against the Rays in a 7:05 ET game airing on MLB.TV, is competing for a spot in the bullpen. His competition includes fellow left-hander Embree, and righties Joe Nelson, Scott Atchison and Boof Bonser. In his 11-year career, Schoeneweis is 46-57 with a 4.97 ERA and nine saves, while holding left-handed hitters to a .227 average, with a .301 on-base percentage and .304 slugging percentage.

In 15 career appearances at Fenway, he has held all batters to a .168 average, with a .246 OBP, .224 SLG and 1.44 K/BB.

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The past few years have been difficult for Schoeneweis, whose wife died May 20, 2009. It wasn't easy for the father of four to leave his kids in Arizona.

"They have spring break next week and they're going to come out and hang out at the beach," Schoeneweis said. "That takes the sting of having to be this far away. Most guys would rather be without their family in Spring Training. My situation's a little different. I feel much better with them around. So it took the sting out of having to leave so suddenly, and come out here to Florida. So it'll be fun for everybody."

Joining the Red Sox, with the family ties -- Schoeneweis' cousin, Jeremy Kapstein, is a senior advisor of special projects for the team -- and his familiarity with the area, all made it an easier choice. Now, he just wants a shot to show that he can still pitch at the big league level. With his time in Milwaukee's camp, Schoeneweis, who has an out-clause in his contract for April 15, is ready for the season.

"I'm ready to go," Schoeneweis said. "I've never been this excited about playing baseball in a long time and actually having fun again. I've been a little frustrated, admittedly, that I feel like I'm better than I have been when I was locked up to a long-term deal making a decent amount of money.

"And I just need to kind of show it to get back in the door. I just don't want to go out knowing what I know about myself. I'm just not ready to be done. I haven't been hurt. I'm in phenomenal shape always. I'm a young 36. So I still feel like I can play, and it would be a shame if I was unable to play in the big leagues."

And pitching for the Red Sox in Fenway would make the homecoming complete.

Maureen Mullen is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.