BOSTON -- As Hirokazu Sawamura tries to take on added responsibility in the bullpen, he is also learning to bridge cultural gaps with his teammates through candy.
"Obviously language is an issue for me, but despite that, I try to go into the circle of a conversation, try to ask a lot of questions even though I don't really speak English," Sawamura said through an interpreter on Thursday. "I try to learn it, speak it. That way I've been able to kind of blend in with my teammates. Recently, the Hi-Chew is really popular in the clubhouse and the bullpen and the dugout and everything. Hi-Chew is the key to good communication."
Hi-Chew is a fruit candy made in Japan that was very prevalent around the Boston clubhouse when Junichi Tazawa was with the Red Sox.
Apparently, Sawamura has brought the Hi-Chews back to Boston with him.
Of course, Sawamura is also learning a lot when it comes to pitching in the United States compared with Japan, where he pitched professionally for the last decade.
One thing that has become clear to the righty is that Major Leaguers have a lot more power than their NPB counterparts.
While Sawamura used to be able to throw his fastball low in the strike zone, that pitch is often crushed by MLB hitters.
"The hitters here, I think they're good at scooping the low strike zone, the low fastball," Sawamura said. "That's the pitch I've given up home runs off, and they've got the long reach, so they're really good at making the hard swing low in the strike zone. I've been able to use the high strike zone and low strike zone with the vertical movement that I've been emphasizing. I think I've been doing a pretty good job of that, and I think I'll keep up with that."
"Obviously if I'm asked to pitch in a high-leverage situation and a tough situation, as a pitcher, that's an honor," Sawamura. "I'm really honored to be able to pitch in those situations, and I can make that my motivation, if [manager Alex Cora] gives me the ball in the tough situations."
Pivetta reinstated, will start Friday
The Red Sox took righty Nick Pivetta off the roster for Wednesday's game and put him on the COVID-19-related injured list because he was experiencing side effects from getting vaccinated.
Fortunately, he was well enough to return to the roster on Thursday and will make his scheduled start on Friday night against the Angels.
Pivetta is 5-0 with a 3.19 ERA this season.
"As you guys know, this is kind of like how people react to the shot. He's feeling better," said Cora.
Kiké could return Tuesday
The way things are trending, Kiké Hernández (strained right hamstring) could be back as soon as he is eligible -- which would be Tuesday in Dunedin, Fla., against the Blue Jays.
"I think that the way things are moving with Enrique especially, most likely he'll go on a rehab assignment Saturday and Sunday," Cora said, adding that Hernández will DH on Saturday and play center field on Sunday.
Christian Arroyo (left wrist contusion) is also eligible to come back Tuesday, but Cora isn't sure yet if he's ready.
"Christian is going to hit today. Let's see how he feels about it, then we'll make a decision with him," said Cora. "Like I said, it seems that both of them are trending in the right direction, especially Enrique. That's good news. With Christian, like I said, we just have to wait and see, but it seems like it's feeling a lot better. The fact that he's going to hit outside is a big positive for us."
One reliever the Red Sox could really use is righty Ryan Brasier, who has missed the entire season thus far due to a left calf strain he suffered at the end of last season.
Brasier is still in Fort Myers, Fla., trying to rehab his way back into pitching shape.
"He threw [a] bullpen [session], what, three days ago? That's the last thing I heard from him, but he's feeling better," said Cora. "He's feeling a lot better. Nothing as far as rehab yet. Obviously we've got to be smart about it. We've been through this before with him. We don't want to rush it. We know how important he is, and obviously with a calf, the mechanics, all that stuff, we've got to get him right, not only physically but also mechanic-wise. When he gets there, then we're ready to make the next move."