Pivetta picks up where he left off in strong '24 debut

Devers (left shoulder soreness) hopes for speedy return to lineup

March 30th, 2024

SEATTLE -- In a rotation otherwise consisting of pitchers in their mid-20s, the season-ending injury to Lucas Giolito has left as the lone veteran in the group.

And the 31-year-old might just be the person to take on the responsibility that entails.

Not only do the Red Sox need innings from Pivetta, but they also need results. On Friday night at T-Mobile Park, Pivetta provided both.

Though it came in a 1-0 loss on a night that Mariners righty George Kirby was also magnificent, Pivetta allowed three hits and one run over six innings, walking none and striking out 10.

“You saw his stuff, it's really good,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Pivetta. “Today, finally, the breaking ball played. He struggled with it the whole spring, and tonight he threw it for strikes. The cutter was good. The sweeper was great. The fastball played at 93-94 [mph]. So it was a good one.”

The one misfire Pivetta had -- an 0-1 cutter to J.P. Crawford -- was deposited into the seats in right for a solo shot that broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the sixth.

“Just down and in and it backed up a little bit, and he put a good swing on a pitch,” Pivetta said.

Pivetta shook off his lone blemish and then struck out the next two batters to finish his fine performance.

The righty found himself in the final three months of last season as a swingman, backed by a second slider that had more horizontal break.

“Yeah, it’s been a huge contributor to my success, giving me another look, and just being able to execute a little bit later in the year last year and into this year, it’s been good. I know it’s early, but my feel for that pitch has been good,” Pivetta said.

The case can be made that he was the most valuable pitcher the Red Sox had in 2023. Over 142 2/3 innings, he led the club with 183 strikeouts and held opponents to a .208 batting average.

Pivetta came into camp this year with his spot in the rotation restored because he earned it.

“I think I’m carrying momentum from last season into this season,” said Pivetta.

At this point in his career, and with Boston’s rotation constructed as it is, Pivetta realizes his responsibility to the team is growing, and he seems to be embracing that.

“I think just building a good structure for the guys,” Pivetta said. “I think everybody is equal at this point. We’re all men, we’re all here, we all have a job to do, we all love playing baseball. I think it’s just getting on a natural level with everybody with respect and understanding the best I can to help in any situation I can. I made a lot of mistakes when I was younger, so just making sure these guys are doing everything they can and helping them when I can. But we’re all equals.”

Raffy’s left shoulder barking
On a night the Red Sox didn’t score, the loss of Rafael Devers hurt. Boston’s star slugger was scratched fewer than 90 minutes before the start of the game due to left shoulder soreness.

“It’s early in the season so we have to be smart about that, and it’s better to take one or two days than play through it and then miss two or three weeks,” said Devers.

Though Devers showed no ill effects on Opening Day when he belted a two-run homer and raked a double that had an exit velocity of 110 mph in Boston’s 6-4 win, he said the discomfort traces back to late in Spring Training, when he tweaked the shoulder hitting off a pitching machine.

“It was getting worse and worse, and I felt it a little bit,” Devers said. “Today in batting practice I felt it a little bit more, and I just wanted to be smart.”

Devers didn’t rule out returning to the lineup on Saturday.

"I think if I feel better, there is a good chance I play tomorrow,” said Devers.

Understandably, Cora and the training staff took precautions with their most impactful hitter.

“He took the first round [of batting practice],” said Cora. “Then he came in, and I said, ‘What do you got?’ and he said, ‘I just feel stiff and sore,’ so I said, ‘Let’s stay away from this one.’ It’s the second game of the season, so he'll come in tomorrow and hopefully he's ready to go. And if that’s not the case, we'll wait for one more day.”