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Mike Shalin's Working Press: Pomeranz problem isn't going away

By MIKE SHALIN
August 09. 2018 11:10PM




OK, let’s assume the AL East race is over, that the Red Sox are merely getting things ready for October. They scored 20 runs in the first two games in Toronto, just the latest example of a team that just doesn’t let down.

But even if it’s over, there are things that still have to be decided.

Starting with Drew Pomeranz, who was demoted to the bullpen Thursday.

“He understands,” Alex Cora said before Thursday night’s game. “Like I told him, he’s still a big part of what we’re trying to accomplish either in the bullpen or back in the rotation. We’ll see. But we need this guy to be good and he knows it. He’s working hard to do that. He threw a bullpen (session) today. They kept talking about mechanics and try to get it where he’s comfortable and he’s productive. But Drew Pomeranz is an important piece of this team.”

If you’ve forgotten, Pomeranz came on and won 17 games last year but it’s already almost mid-August and the signs just aren’t there. Brian Johnson is striking people out like crazy and is now No. 5. Eduardo Rodriguez will be coming back. Heck, Steven Wright might even contribute at some point.

Then there’s the abundance of position players when Ian Kinsler and Blake Swihart return. Could that mean 12 pitchers?

Pomeranz has pitched three times since his latest stay on the disabled list, working 14 1/3 innings, yielding 14 hits, eight earned runs and walked eight while fanning 12 and giving up three home runs.

One thing Pomeranz, whose contract expires at the end of the year, could have going for him is the Sept. 1 expansion of the roster. Can they stall things long enough to just throw Pomeranz in the bullpen and have him and others available? Remember, anyone on the DL on Aug. 31 can be added for the postseason, giving you more than 25 to pick from.

He also has a history of pitching out of the ’pen. Of his 181 major league appearances, 59 have been as a reliever. And he has done well. He is 4-4 with a 2.10 ERA — 43 hits allowed and 68 strikeouts in 64 1/3 innings. He even has three saves.

He has, however, made just two relief appearances since 2015, one with the Red Sox in three seasons.

Dave Dombrowski didn’t add a lefty reliever to the bullpen at the deadline and this COULD work.

Happy preseason

The boredom disguised as real football games began in Foxborough, Mass., Thursday night. They call them preseasons but they are truly exhibition games played with the idea of getting no one important seriously hurt. Face it, the real news coming out of Thursday — before the game — was the handing out of the numbers to the new players.

Until mid-day, when Adam Schefter of ESPN revealed the Patriots re-worked Brady’s contract to load it with incentives. With a $15 million base, Brady is ranked just 16th among NFL quarterbacks, but the incentives should bring him into the mix. It’s what the Pats did with Rob Gronkowski last year — and Gronk earned his way into the upper echelon.

The report said as much as $5 million could go into Brady’s pocket.

Sad good-bye

Malcolm Mitchell, a cog in the fifth championship machine, took to Instagram after he was cut loose for not being healthy enough.

He wrote: “New England, thank you! My heart hurts, but I smile when thinking about all the love, support and patience you have given me. To the community this is not goodbye, it’s I’ll see you later. Go Pats! ” Said Bill Belichick: “He did everything he could, did everything he could. It’s unfortunate that didn’t work out, but I don’t know how he could have put any more into it than he did.”

Belichick on Hall of Famer Randy Moss: “He was a great person to have on the team. He did a lot of, in his own way, team-building events — like the Halloween party, things like that — that a lot of times went below the radar. He didn’t do them for publicity. He didn’t do them because he wanted to be recognized for it. He did it because he wanted to do it and it was the right thing to do. You know, he brought a lot of kids up to games every week, bused kids up from West Virginia, gave them tickets, bought them tickets so they could come to the games here at Gillette Stadium and things like that that a lot of people don’t know about. But, that was just how generous and what a big heart Randy had.”

With folks wondering if Dez Bryant somehow finds his way to Gillette, Eric Decker is a Patriot, where he is reunited with former coach Josh McDaniels. Asked if that helps with continuity, Belichick said, “I’m sure it will. Well, he’s a smart guy. I know he has recall from some of the things that we do that Josh did at Denver that are carryover. There’s a lot of differences, but there’s certainly a lot of carryover.

Robert Kraft on ESPN: “The job of ownership is to keep continuity when you have something good. I think some people just make change for change’s sake, and I have a rule: We never break something down unless we can put something better in its place. And the Belichick-Brady combo has been pretty good.”

From Matt Vautour of MassLive: “It is weird to see (Manchester, N.H’s) Ryan Day coaching at Ohio State. He was a former stud quarterback at the University of New Hampshire and a UMass killer. Former Delaware quarterback Matt Nagy is now coaching the Bears too. Atlantic 10 football was apparently an incubator of coaches.”

Finals bound

Jaylen Brown speaks confidently about his team for the coming season. And why shouldn’t he? “I hate how everybody is like, ‘Oh, LeBron (James) is gone in the East,’” Brown said on C.J. McCollum’s “Pull Up” podcast. “I know he did have a stronghold on the East for the last seven years, but he barely got up out of there this year. And our mindset was like, ‘Man, he’s not beating us again.’ And that’s what our mindset was. We had a bunch of young guys who could really play and we didn’t back down from nobody.”

Kawhi Leonard, whose health could have a lot to do with how much the Celtics dominate the East, publicly thanked the team and fans he left behind in San Antonio. The new Raptor is now joined by Greg Monroe, who joins his fourth team in less than a year.

This stuff is about the Celtics’ future. Celtics past? Bob Cousy, the original point guard, turned 90 Thursday — and column pal Bill Doyle did an outstanding piece on the all-time great in the Worcester Telegram.

“In my humble judgment,” Cousy said, “we created in the ’50s and ’60s the most significant and distinguished and awesome dynasty that’s ever been done in American professional team sports.”

Steph Curry seems to like the attention being heaped on the rival Lakers with the arrival of James. “And a whole new-look Laker team with some of the young kids. It should be fun, the Bay Area and L.A. and the whole thing,” Curry told the Associated Press. “When I first got into the league, Oracle (Arena) would be buzzing any time the Lakers came in. There probably will be a revolution of Laker fans that are going to try to creep in, but I hope Bay Area and Dub Nation, we keep control of that competition because we’re on top right now.”

Salute the King

Aaron Rodgers tips his helmet to James for ignoring the President’s tweet, telling NFL Media: “At a time where he’s putting on display his school, which is changing lives, there’s no need. Because you’re just giving attention to that (tweet); that’s what they want. So just don’t respond.

“He has stood on his own two feet for years, and he has done some incredible things, and he needs no support,” Rodgers told NFL.com. “He knows he has the support of his contemporaries, in his own sport and in other sports, and he’s gonna be fine.’”

New rules

Among the changes introduced by the NCAA, the two most-important have to be A.) a player can go through the draft process and then return to college if he’s not drafted, and B.) elite high school players can be represented by agents.

But, as has been pointed out: What if a player decided to return to college and there are no scholarships available at his old program? Could he then transfer? Would he have to sit out a year? Valid.

Thursday marked the 30th anniversary of the Edmonton Oilers trading of Wayne Gretzky going to the L.A. Kings in a deal that shook the hockey world — and transformed hockey in southern California. Says column pal John Molori: “Biggest trade in sports history, in my opinion.”

Here and there

Our thoughts and wishes go out to Jerry Remy in his latest battle against cancer. Tweeted Remy: “Thank you for all of your support. This has hit me hard but I have never quit and will not now. I have complete trust in my team at Mass General. Bring it home Sox !!” … The Yankees rebounded from last weekend’s massacre with three straight wins over the lowly White Sox, and set a franchise record for strikeouts by their starters — 43. … RIP Stan Mikita, an all-time great both on and off the ice. … Death, taxes and the Sixers losing their top draft pick, this time Zhaire Smith to foot surgery. … From The Athletic’s Jayson Stark: “Max Scherzer just raised his batting average for the year to .306. The only pitcher who ever hit .300 and won a Cy Young in the same season? A guy named Bob Gibson (.303) in 1970.” … The Bruins will join the Sabres, Penguins and Devils in a Prospects Challenge in Buffalo Sept. 7-10. … Finally, this from @StatsBySTATS: “Through 152 career games, Rhys Hoskins of the @Phillies has career totals of 75 extra-base hits, 100 walks and 100 runs. The only player in the live-ball era to reach those numbers in fewer games was Ted Williams (143).”

Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is shalinmike@yahoo.com.


Sports columns Patriots/NFL Red Sox/MLB Celtics/NBA Bruins/NHL