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News » Boston Red Sox Inside Pitch 2008-04-16

Boston Red Sox Inside Pitch 2008-04-16

Boston Red Sox Inside Pitch 2008-04-16
Manny Delcarmen has become one of Terry Francona's prime options out of the bullpen when he needs a punch-out.

The 26-year-old setup man was the talk of spring training after he showed up 10 pounds lighter and appeared primed for greater responsibility in the bullpen -- a heightened role that has thrust him into potentially dire game situations where anything less than a strikeout or a weak popup simply won't do.

With that in mind, Delcarmen worked vigorously on elevating his mid-90s fastball when he has a hitter on the ropes with a two-strike count. The Hyde Park, Mass., native experienced problems harnessing the high fastball in the past, so he came up with a unique solution: aim directly at Jason Varitek's head.

"I definitely consider myself more of a power pitcher with good off-speed stuff, but I've been trying to get more strikeouts by relying on my fastball," said Delcarmen, who has rung up seven whiffs in nine appearances this season. "I can get guys to chase my off-speed stuff, but a lot of it is about elevating my fastball and getting hitters to chase it for a strikeout.

"Before I always had problems elevating the fastball where 'Tek would call for it -- and stand up a little bit -- and I would pretty much throw a strike right down the middle of the plate," added the right-hander, who pitched a scoreless inning of relief but did allow an inherited run to score. "I just couldn't elevate in bullpen sessions and in spring training. 'Tek will try to stand up a little now, and I'm just trying to hit him in the head, hit him in the mask or throw it over his right shoulder. It's worked so far."

Varitek wasn't shocked when apprised of Delcarmen's intent to hurl a heater off his noggin, and instead encouraged any means necessary to harness Delcarmen's nuclear stuff.

"With different people it takes different viewpoints and different areas to start locating," Varitek said. "The key for Manny is location: It's elevating the fastball when we want to and working down in the zone when we want to."

RED SOX 5, INDIANS 3: The Sox won their second consecutive game against the Indians, again with a home run in the top of the ninth inning. This time pinch hitter Jason Varitek smacked a solo job to break a 3-3 tie. A Kevin Youkilis RBI single in the ninth gave the Sox a two-run cushion, and gave David Aardsma his first win of the season. Hideki Okajima spun a scoreless ninth to record his first save of the season.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: April 16, 2008

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