DECISION TIME ON BONSER
Back in December, the Red Sox traded for big righthander, Boof Bonser, presumably for long relief duty in the bullpen. Everything was going according to plan until the 28 year old came down with a groin pull in late March. At that time it seemed like Bonser was competing with Joe Nelson, Scott Atchison and later Scott Schoeneweis for the final spot in the Boston pen. Atchison and Schoeneweis began the year in Boston, while Nelson and Bonser started their seasons at McCoy. Nelly’s been in the bigs now for a couple of weeks, Scoheneweis is gone and Atchison is back in the Majors. That leaves Bonser. Boof struggled early in April with shoulder stiffness, but after his most recent start, we talked. “Everything is feeling good. Everything is clicking, knock on wood.” After his last outing (7 ip, 1er 5h, 0bb, 6k) Bonser said that there is nothing physically holding him back. “I just keep doing what they tell me to do. Physically, if I can go out there and just pitch, I think that’s helping out big time, getting my start, every five days.”
Bonser needed to prove to Boston that the early season “kinks” are a thing of the past and no longer a factor. “No, no, none of that. I’ve been able to prepare and be ready every five days.” Boof says he’s no more clear on his immediate future than we are. “The funny thing is, that you guys seem to know more than I do. To be honest, I have no idea. I’m just doing what they tell me to do. Get my innings in, work on my pitches…that’s what I’ve been doing.” Bonser says he has absolutely no clue, as to the Red Sox’ plans for him. “Everybody expects to be up there (Boston). That’s where I hope to be. It’s getting close to the end and that is where I hope to be. I want to be with the Red Sox, not here in Pawtucket.” The deadline is the 6th of June. That is the last day he can pitch for the PawSox. He is scheduled to start here in Louisville against the Bats. After that, it’s anybodys’ guess. Either Boston calls him up or has to let him go. Reports have been floating around that he and Atchison will flip-flop spots.
He has pitched well, for the most part fot the PawSox. Overall, the numbers don’t look great (0-2, 6.54) He’s made 8 starts for Pawtucket and 6 have been very solid. Still just 28 years old, he would provide depth for those nights the starter doesn’t last. “They wanted me to be the ‘long’ guy in the pen, in case a starter goes down. I can eat up the innings. Unfortunately I got hurt during Spring and had to do this rehab assignment. That was the plan from the get-go.”
Bonser says it’s been especially frustrating for him, seing friends and fellow competitors like Nelson and Atchison get chances that he might have had if he were healthy. “I’m frustrated. I missed all of last year due to shoulder surgery. Got healthy and then got hurt again at Fort Myers. I keep wondering what’s next.” Bonser is clear that he isn’t diminishing the accomplishments of the other relievers, but he is smart enough to know, it would or could have been him. “The three of us competed at Spring Training. They’re up there and I’m not. I’ll see what happens soon.”
Boof Bonser is 6’4 and listed at 245 pounds. It brought a smile to his face when I used the words “cat-like quickness” describing his defensive prowess. He sounded like Bill Belichick when he answered. “It is what it is- I get the adrenaline flowing and it’s my game out there. I’m going to get to that ball. I know I’ve surprised a lot of people playing ball.” Despite what he’s endured, Bonser is still a hard-throwing 28 year old with his career still out there n front of him. In spite of his size and the injuries he’s endured, he seems OK with who he is. “It’s funny. It’s always been- ‘you’re not like the other pitchers’. I’m built differently. I’m a plus size guy. It happens.” Bonser says that trainers and coaches have finally stopped trying to get him to be an “off the rack” type of guy. Boof cited David Wells. He said if the Hefty Lefty were a thin man, he might not have reached the heights he reached. “Look at Wells. He’s a big guy. I don’t know exactly how many years he got in, but the wins…everything else. He pitched successfully in the Big Leagues, he did what he did. He went out and did well, very well. That’s how I look at it.”
Boof would love to be in Boston, but he is mentally preparing himself, in case they don’t want him. “I don’t know…free agency, waivers. I have no idea. Whatever happens.” We will find out very soon.