GLENDALE, Ariz. — Kyle Drabek still seemed to be gathering his wits about him yet, after packing his belongings and traveling to Arizona from Florida. The 27-year-old right-hander had roots with the Toronto Blue Jays, having spent the last five years in their organization, before the Sox claimed him off waivers Friday.
The Sox bullpen was a big problem last year, and while Cactus League performances are what they are, it comes as no encouragement that, despite significant upgrades via free agency and a trade, the pen’s collective ERA is 5.58. David Robertson, signed to a four-year, $46 million contract to be the closer, pitched a scoreless inning Sunday after backing off for a week because of tenderness in the forearm/elbow area. Jake Petricka has also stopped for a similar concern, although he isn’t scheduled for a return as of yet.
Petricka played catch at 90 feet Sunday. With Opening Day eight days away, it appears as though his chances of going North with the team are slim.
Drabek was placed on the 40-man roster, and would seem to have a shot at making the Opening Day roster. He allowed two earned runs over seven innings in the Grapefruit League. He threw a bullpen session Sunday morning, with scout Joe Butler — who recommended him — on hand to observe.
“It was a good side,” Hahn said. “It was just a chance for them to get to know each other and talk about what Kyle is trying to do and what our scouts have seen in him and how they see his role potentially evolving over the coming weeks and months with us.“And [Drabek] was enthusiastic as well. We are glad to have him. We’ve talked about this since before SoxFest—you can never have too much pitching depth and it’s nice to have a guy with a little bit of ceiling to him in our mix.”“I didn’t really have a certain role with Toronto, kind of just looked on the board and if my name was up there and I was pitching that day, I would take the ball, so I’m kind of just sticking with that,” Drabek said Sunday morning. “Whenever they want me to go out there and pitch, I will.”
Drabek was slated to throw a bullpen session Sunday morning.
Drabek, 27, spent most of the 2014 season with AAA Buffalo, posting a 7-7 record and 4.18 ERA. He also made two appearances with Toronto after being recalled on August 16, working three scoreless innings.
Before Tommy John surgery (he has had two) Drabek, whose father Doug had a successful major league career, was a big-time prospect. He is 8-15 with a 5.27 ERA over parts of five major-league seasons with the Blue Jays (2010-14).
Transitioning to relief has gone well for Drabek, maybe better than he would have expected.
“It was a struggle at first, for me, throwing twice a day. I didn’t think my arm would bounce back from it very well, but it has bounced back great, so I can’t complain about that.”
Hahn said he continues to watch the waiver wire, which is fluid this late in camp. The Sox picked up Javy Guerra off waivers from the Dodgers at this time last year.
“Keep [Guerra] in the organization and now he’s going to play an important role potentially for us going forward,” Hahn said. “Even if you feel good in a certain area, if there’s something else you like that’s floating around, you take seriously the opportunity to improve yourself especially from a depth standpoint.”
NOTE: The Blue Jays claimed first baseman Andy Wilkins, who hit 30 homers at AAA Charlotte last season, off waivers.