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Banister being cautious with Minor's workload

MLB.com

BOSTON -- Mike Minor expressed confusion after being pulled relatively early on Monday, but manager Jeff Banister said it was all part of the plan.

"I get the wanting to push the envelope," Banister said. "Why wouldn't you want to? He's a competitor. That's the nature of really good competitors. They don't want to give up the ball, especially pitchers. They don't. I don't know any pitcher that wants to give it up."

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BOSTON -- Mike Minor expressed confusion after being pulled relatively early on Monday, but manager Jeff Banister said it was all part of the plan.

"I get the wanting to push the envelope," Banister said. "Why wouldn't you want to? He's a competitor. That's the nature of really good competitors. They don't want to give up the ball, especially pitchers. They don't. I don't know any pitcher that wants to give it up."

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Minor exited after throwing 93 pitches over 5 2/3 innings in Monday's 5-0 loss to the Red Sox. Before Tuesday's matchup, Banister said he spoke to Minor and said he is saving his starter for September.

"I believe in Mike, I believe in his ability, I believe he's going to be a tremendous starting pitcher in this league and continues to get better," Banister said. "So part of this is for short-term health, long-term care. If you do the math on the number of innings that he's pitched so far, project him out for where he would be, so the thing we don't want to get to in September where he's piled up so many innings that now you've got to shut him down. There is some merit to, if you draw back an out or two, an inning here and there, the pitch count is conservative, you quite possibly could make those starts."

Minor has made 17 starts this season, putting him on pace for 30 starts. If his starts are lengthy, Banister is worried that Minor could be too fatigued by September.

The two spoke during the offseason about being conservative about keeping Minor on the mound for too many innings, after Minor switched back to starting this season. Since Minor threw 77 2/3 innings in 65 relief appearances with the Royals last season and none in 2016 after undergoing left labrum surgery in May 2015, Banister wants to make Minor's transition gradual as he returns to a starter.

"I love where his heart and his mind is at," Banister said. "It's about competing, and he wants to continue to compete going forward and things like that."

Kiner-Falefa builds catching experience

After spending the first game of the Red Sox series at third base, Isiah Kiner-Falefa was behind the plate Tuesday as he continues the transition to a catcher-infielder hybrid.

"With Kiner, it's about the education and preparation that he goes through," Banister said. "Every night that he goes out there and catches is a new experience for him based on real-life experience. He can go and sit on the video and watch, we can sit him down with the pitching coaches, he can sit down with all of his pitching staff. But every time that he goes and catches one of these guys, it's still an experience where he's learning."

But even when he is playing as an infielder, Banister said, Kiner-Falefa has plenty of opportunities to grow as a catcher. Kiner-Falefa is receiving days off in between catching stints so he can have extra time to rest, study the position and mentally prepare.

That work will be put to the test on Tuesday, but more importantly, he will grow from the process.

Blake Richardson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Boston.

Texas Rangers, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Mike Minor