From Comcast SportsNetBOSTON (AP) -- If Joel Hanrahan can do for the Boston Red Sox what he did against them, they should be very happy with their new closer.In the first of his two All-Star seasons, the right-hander posted back-to-back saves for the Pittsburgh Pirates with perfect ninth innings against the Red Sox in June 2011. He struck out Adrian Gonzalez, who entered the series batting .359, to end the second game."When people look back on me as a Pirate, that's the one that stands out the most to them," Hanrahan said Wednesday after being obtained in a six-player trade.People such as Red Sox assistant general manager Brian O'Halloran."It definitely made an impression on me," he said. "It was not fun to be in the batter's box against Joel Hanrahan."Now American League hitters will see what it's like.Boston completed the deal Wednesday, also receiving infielder Brock Holt. The Red Sox gave up right-handers Mark Melancon and Stolmy Pimentel, infielder Ivan DeJesus Jr. and first baseman-outfielder Jerry Sands.The Red Sox also announced the signing of free agent shortstop Stephen Drew, who agreed to a one-year contract early last week. The reported 9.5 million deal was contingent on Drew passing a physical. The former Oakland Athletic and Arizona Diamondback broke his ankle in 2011."We feel that he's going to be fully healthy for us," O'Halloran said.The acquisition of Drew and Hanrahan are the latest in a series of moves designed to improve on a 69-93 record and a last-place finish in the AL East. The Red Sox already have obtained right-handers Ryan Dempster and Koji Uehara, outfielders Shane Victorino and Johnny Gomes and catcher David Ross.Over the past two seasons, Hanrahan had 76 saves, fourth most in the National League, and a 2.24 ERA. Last season, he was 5-2 with a 2.72 ERA and 36 saves.The six-year veteran will take over the closer's role that Alfredo Aceves struggled in most of last season before giving way to Andrew Bailey, who had missed most of the season with a right thumb injury.In his first season with Boston, Bailey was 1-1 with a 7.04 ERA and six saves in nine opportunities over 19 games.Manager John Farrell has talked with Hanrahan and Bailey and told them that Hanrahan will be the closer, although "we see Andrew as playing a very important role," O'Halloran said.The Red Sox's search for a closer began when Jonathan Papelbon signed as a free agent with the Philadelphia Phillies after the 2011 season.Hanrahan figured he was part of that quest when he heard his name in trade rumors involving the Red Sox, Detroit Tigers and Los Angeles Dodgers."I got excited" when he learned of the trade, Hanrahan said. "Obviously, the Red Sox have a great history and tradition and it's a huge sports city."In six seasons, 2 12 with the Washington Nationals and 3 12 with the Pirates, he's 22-17 with a 3.74 ERA and 96 saves in 117 chances. His best season was 2011 when he went 1-4 with a 1.83 ERA, 40 saves in 44 opportunities and just 16 walks in 68 2-3 innings. His control slipped last season when he walked 36 in 59 2-3 innings.Hanrahan said hamstring and ankle problems affected his pitching mechanics."I don't think the walks are going to be a concern," he said. "I feel good going to spring training."Hanrahan said he's never been to Fenway Park, but O'Halloran doesn't think he'll have trouble adjusting to the American League."Joel Hanrahan has the stuff to pitch anywhere," he said.Holt spent most of last season at Double-A Altoona, then hit .292 in 24 games with the Pirates, all in September.Melancon was 0-2 with a 6.20 ERA in 41 relief appearances in his only season with Boston. Pimentel spent the season at Double-A Portland. Sands and DeJesus were obtained in a trade that sent Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford to the Dodgers on Aug. 25.
The two fastballs that soared to the backstop on Wednesday night should give you a strong indication that Carlos Rodon was far from perfect.
But in making his first start of the 2017 season, the White Sox pitcher also offered his team plenty of signals that his health isn’t going to be an issue.
Rodon returned to the mound for the first time since last September and brought the goods that made him one of baseball’s top pitching prospects several years ago. Given he’d missed three months with bursitis in the left shoulder and the potential value he offers to a franchise only half a season into its first rebuild in 20 years, that was plenty for the White Sox to overlook the rust Rodon showed in a 12-3 White Sox loss to the New York Yankees at Guaranteed Rate Field.
“He started a little rough early obviously, got some high pitch counts,” manager Rick Renteria said. “And then he kind of settled down.
“Having him back in the rotation and getting him back out there on the big league field, coming out of there feeling good, healthy. I'm sure he will continue to get better as he continues to get out there and move forward.”
Renteria said he wasn’t surprised that Rodon struggled with his command as much as he did against the Yankees. The issues the pitcher displayed in uncorking a pair of wild pitches, walking six batters and throwing strikes on only 41 of 94 pitches were also present during Rodon’s four rehab starts in the minors.
But as long as the stuff was there, the White Sox would be OK with any issues that accompanied the performance. Rodon began to alleviate those concerns immediately when he earned a called strike on the game’s first pitch with a 93-mph fastball to Brett Gardner. Featuring a four-seamer with an absurd amount of movement and a nasty slider he struggled to control, Rodon checked all the boxes the White Sox hoped for from a pitcher they believe will be a frontline starter for years to come. Rodon also was pleased by how he felt before, during and after the contest.
“I was pretty excited,” Rodon said. “I was going a little fast in the first. But it was good to be out there. Next time out, it’ll hopefully be a little better. Arm feels good, body feels good, all you can ask for.”
Well, it’s not ALL you can ask for, but it’s pretty damn good out of the gate given how slow Rodon’s return took. His four-seam fastball averaged 94.9 mph according to BrooksBaseball.Net and touched 97 mph. His two-seamer averaged 94.4 mph and touched 95. And his slider, though he couldn’t control it, nor locate it for a strike, averaged 86 mph.
“You could see (Omar Narvaez) going over to try to catch some balls that were having tremendous run,” Renteria said. “That's (Rodon). He's got some tremendous life, he's just trying to harness it the best that he can and being able to execute where he wants to get as many strikes as possible.”
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The strikes were about the only thing Rodon didn’t bring with him. He walked Gardner to start the game and issued two more free passes after a Tim Anderson error allowed a run to score and extended the first inning. Rodon threw 37 pitches in the first, only 15 for strikes.
He also reached a full count to each of the batters he faced in the second inning. Rodon walked two more with two outs in the third inning after he’d retired six batters in a row.
And there were those pesky first-inning wild pitches that resembled something out of ‘Bull Durham.’
But all in all, Rodon and the White Sox ultimately saw enough in the first outing to be pleased.
“Great stuff, great life, but the goal is to put it in the zone and let them swing it to get guys out early,” Rodon said. “That’s not what happened. I’ll get back to that.”
“It’s a tough loss, but it’s better to be with the guys out on the field grinding than sitting on the couch and watching, for sure.”