Red Sox: Spring training delayed for Steven Wright, Drew Pomeranz

The start of spring training will be delayed for Steven Wright and Drew Pomeranz, as both Boston Red Sox pitchers continue to recover from injuries.

The highly anticipated spring training battle for the final starting rotation spots will have to wait, as a pair of Boston Red Sox pitchers remain sidelined.

John Farrell met with reporters at JetBlue Park on the eve of when pitchers and catchers are officially expected to report. According to the Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato, the manager revealed that both Steven Wright and Drew Pomeranz are at least a week away from being able to throw off of a mound.

Wright is still recovering from a shoulder injury that brought a premature end to his breakout season. The knuckelballer suffered a setback last fall when he experienced bursitis in his throwing shoulder and has yet to regain full strength.

““He’s making improvement,” said Farrell. “This has probably taken longer than he anticipated, than we certainly anticipated. He’s back throwing to 120 feet. He’s throwing flat ground right now. He still needs to continue to build some arm strength at this point in camp. We’ll get a better read exactly when everybody goes through their physicals tomorrow. We’ll get a better read of arm strengths and accurate measurements overall.”

Wright’s shoulder issues impinging on the start of a new season won’t help Red Sox fans forget about Farrell’s baffling decision to use him as a pinch-runner, leading to the star pitcher injuring his shoulder diving back into second base during a game in Los Angeles last August. He would return two weeks later, but after coughing up nine runs over two starts he was shut down for the rest of the season.

Pomeranz enters spring training with his own health concerns. He recently admitted to feeling elbow soreness down the stretch last season, which helps explain the drastic drip in production following the mid-season trade that sent him to Boston. The lefty received a stem-cell injection in his elbow to alleviate the discomfort, but remains behind schedule for spring workouts.

The top three spots in Boston’s rotation are locked in with Rick Porcello, David Price and newcomer Chris Sale. The final two spots are expected to come down to Wright, Pomeranz and Eduardo Rodriguez.

E-Rod knows from his own experience last year that missing time in spring training can derail a season before it gets started. A knee injury he suffered in camp delayed his first start of the season until late May and it took over a month after that before he was able to get back on track. Rodriguez is preparing to join Team Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic, but the Red Sox may pull the plug on that plan if he shows any sign of health concerns. Expect the team to proceed with caution with the talented 23-year old.

The Red Sox rotation is loaded on paper, but these health concerns highlight the importance of depth. The team hasn’t ruled out Wright or Pomeranz being available by Opening Day, but if one of these ailing starters is forced to begin the season on the disabled list then the decision of who gets left out of the rotation will be made for them. If both remain sidelined heading into the season then the Red Sox may surprisingly feel a tinge of regret over giving away Clay Buchholz in a salary dump.

It’s too soon to panic about the availability of Wright or Pomeranz, but these delays aren’t what fans wanted to hear from two pitchers that finished the 2016 season on a sour note.

Instead of watching a crowded pitching staff battle for rotation spots this spring, the Red Sox are simply hoping to make it to Opening Day with five healthy starters.

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