FARM REPORT by Gary Jacobs
Manny Being Manny
PAWTUCKET, RI | June 12, 2007 -- You could forgive Manny Delcarmen for being disappointed with the letter on his hat.
After a half-season spent with the Boston Red Sox last year, during which he pitched capably for a rookie, if not spectacularly (53 1/3 IP, 30 ER, 5.06 ERA), he found himself starting 2007 in Triple-A, with a P on his cap instead of the B he expected.
To make matters worse, just when he needed to be at his crispest, he started out the 2007 season with a horrible April, surrendering 9 ER’s in only 11 1/3 innings pitched for a 6.94 ERA. His low point was a game against the Buffalo Bisons May 5th, during which he gave up two earned runs in the bottom of the 9th to hand the Bisons a 15-14 victory in a game in which they’d been trailing 14-6 going into the 9th.
Since then the hometown boy has made good – very good indeed. In his last 9 outings, Delcarmen is 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA (14.2 ip, 8 H, 0 ER, 8K) and has brought his ERA down from 6.94 to its current 3.52, a number that seemingly falls every time he toes the rubber.
The 25-year-old righty insists that there was no great epiphany, no magic button to press, that improved his game.
“I’ve just been doing the same stuff we did in the Spring,” he said after his most recent outing, during which he went a clean 1.2 innings, only giving up one solid hit and a couple of seeing-eye dribblers. “Just doing shadow work in the bullpen [where a pitcher will pantomime pitching without a baseball, to sharpen technique]. Everything just seems to be clicking now.”
His manager, Ron Johnson, was impressed with his recent performance, which maintained a 7.1 inning gem by Devern Hansack.
“Manny was strong – a little too strong, actually,” he said. “He had three days off coming in to this outing, and his stuff was explosive – some fastballs were left up [because of it]. But that’s a good problem to have…he pitched to the game, and did a nice job.”
So how does a 6.94 April turn into a 1.46 May? Is it weather?
“No,” laughs Delcarmen. “I was born and raised in Boston – I pitched in the cold all through high school. I just had some bumps, and you have to get over them and keep going.”
Whatever the future holds for the personable Delcarmen, the only certainty is that he’ll be ready, come whatever may.
“I’m just trying to pitch well – and waiting for that phone call,” he says. “You gotta be ready.”
* * *
Don’t let Hansack’s 2-6 record at Pawtucket fool you. Look a little deeper behind the numbers and you’ll see a 3.49 ERA over 59.1 innings pitched and a slew of no-decisions and hard-luck losses that skew his record towards miserable. Witness: an ND on April 11th after 5 scoreless innings; a loss April 19th after going 5.1 and giving up only two; another ND June 1st after going 7 scoreless innings, giving up only three hits; a loss on June 7th after 6.1 innings and two earned runs.
Last night’s 7.1 inning gem during which he gave up only two ER’s resulted in his first win since his Pawtucket debut on April 6th.
* * *
Jacoby Ellsbury is quickly establishing himself as a player that people stop what they’re doing to watch. In last night’s tilt, for example, the Sox’ first-round pick from the 2005 draft came to bat leading off the third inning. He rapped a sharp single into right, then stole second with a jump so large that he’d already popped up from his slide by the time the throw came. Joe McEwing’s single easily plated Ellsbury for the PawSox’ third run of the game. The run was almost completely manufactured by Ellsbury’s combination of hitting skills and blazing speed.
He seems to be the archetype leadoff hitter – his .296 average skyrockets to .320 with the bases empty and his OPS jumps from .752 to .797. He has stolen 17 bases while at Pawtucket, getting caught but twice. When he is ready for The Show, any issues Boston still has at leadoff will be resolved. -- By Gary Jacobs, Boston Dirt Dogs contributor. E-mail Gary