FORT MYERS, Fla. -- With all the attention on the top three pitchers in the Red Sox rotation this spring, it is easy to forget that the team will likely feature a pair of All-Stars on the back end, too.Thomas Pomeranz and Steven Wright are competing to fill out the
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- With all the attention on the top three pitchers in the Red Sox rotation this spring, it is easy to forget that the team will likely feature a pair of All-Stars on the back end, too.
Thomas Pomeranz and Steven Wright are competing to fill out the rotation behind David Price, Rick Porcello and Chris Sale this spring. Both Pomeranz and Wright were named All-Stars in 2016, both come into camp with serious question marks about their health to start the season and both are about a week behind in their throwing schedules.
"Obviously, health is going to be our main concern with these guys," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "With the number of days left in Spring Training, provided there are no setbacks, we'll have ample time to get them to the mound to build up their pitch counts with a typical Spring Training."
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Pomeranz put up impressive numbers with the Padres to start 2016, going 8-7 with a 2.47 ERA and 115 strikeouts in 102 innings. However, he battled elbow and forearm soreness and struggled after he was acquired by the Red Sox, going 3-5 with a 4.59 ERA in the second half. Eventually, he was demoted to the bullpen.
Pomeranz received experimental therapy over the offseason -- stem cells were injected directly into his throwing elbow to help alleviate the issue. He is expected to throw a bullpen session on Thursday, just his second of the spring, and barring a setback, he could face live hitters as soon as next week.
"I'm right where I expected to be," Pomeranz said. "I'm taking it a little slower than I would like to, but [the team] laid out a plan to have me ready for the start of the season that will let me push it a little more over the next couple of weeks."
Wright is also on schedule after a promising bullpen session this week. The knuckleballer was in the midst of a breakout season in 2016, going 13-6 with a 3.33 ERA before he sustained a shoulder injury while serving as a pinch-runner. The injury cost him the final month of the regular season, and it eventually cost him a spot on the team's postseason roster.
"It felt a lot better than I thought it would," Wright said of Tuesday's throwing session. "It definitely gives me some energy to build off of and take into my next one."
The Red Sox have some depth when it comes to the lower half of their rotation. Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, who is also coming off an injury-plagued 2016, is expected to compete for innings this spring. Henry Owens, Christopher Johnson and Roenis Elias are being stretched out as potential starters, as is Minor League free agent Kyle Kendrick.
"No matter who it ends up being, top to bottom, we are going to be solid," Pomeranz said. "With our offense, I think we all are going to give us a chance to win every night."
Scott Butherus is a contributor to MLB.com based in Fort Myers.