Notes: Sox to give Kim a shot
Sidewinder could land a role in Boston's bullpen
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- You have to see Byung-Hyun Kim to even remember he's still with the Red Sox. But there the diminutive sidewinder from Korea is, getting his work done with all the other pitchers and catchers in camp.
There is no role carved out for him this spring, and that's by design.
Last year, Kim was supposed to be the fifth starter and it all fell apart for him. There were a variety of issues, from physical and mechanical breakdowns to a mystifying drop in velocity. Kim vanished to Korea and then wound up spending his summer at Pawtucket.
Now, he's back, and the Red Sox will give him the chance to prove he deserves to be one of the 25 spots on the team. Nothing will be given to him that is for sure.
"You know what, 'BK' is going to fit in where he makes himself fit in," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "Last year, we kind of had high hopes and that never materialized. Now, depending on how he throws, that's where he'll fit in."
But Francona made one thing clear. He wants Kim to succeed, because that would be quite the bonus weapon for the Boston bullpen.
"Nobody has given up on him, or remotely given up on him, because of what he can do," said Francona. "At the same time, he has to do it. So this is a big spring for 'BK.' And there's nobody more in his corner than me. When you have a right-hander who throws [submarine style], and can dominate right-handed hitters... I'm hoping this kid comes out and does what he can do."
Mantei relishes rivalry: Setup man Matt Mantei had to watch from the disabled list when the 2001 Diamondbacks knocked off the Yankees in an epic seven-game World Series.
He looks forward to the opportunity to get another crack at them, this time as part of one of the greatest rivalries in sports.
"Oh yeah, just watching it on TV, you see what it's like," Mantei said. "I don't think either team likes each other, and that's fine. It's going to be exciting to step out of that bullpen for the first time and pitch against the Yankees. Gary Sheffield and [Alex Rodriguez], yeah, I know a bunch of those guys. We're friends off the field, but I guess when it's game time, it's a different story."
Speaking of friends, Mantei is skeptical of how happy his former teammate Randy Johnson will be in New York.
"It's going to be a tough fit for Randy," said Mantei. "He doesn't like the media, he doesn't like fans, he doesn't like anybody. He's going to have a hard time. But I think, personally, I was good friends with Randy, I love him to death and I wish him all the best, except for when he pitches against the Red Sox."
Versatile addition: Francona thinks that left-hander John Halama will be able to help the pitching staff in a variety of ways.
"He gives us insurance for a starting spot," Francona said. "He can come in early, because he'll be stretched out. He can come in and get out a left-hander. He can also start a game, a spot start if we need him. I was with him for a year in Oakland. He's a real good kid. He does what you ask him to do. Sometimes he picks up innings that aren't the most glamorous innings. He gives us that guy that can come in and pitch three scoreless innings and keep our bullpen from getting beat around and also give us a chance to win the game."
For a later day: While it is well-chronicled that a healthy Wade Miller would give the Red Sox six starting pitchers for five slots, Francona sees no point in trying to figure who the odd man out might be. The Red Sox are going to take it slow with Miller this spring, and Francona sees no reason to start mapping things out for when the talented right-hander is back up to speed.
"Not today, that's silly. It's just silly," said Francona. "Those things have a way of taking care of themselves. You're talking a couple of months. It will work out."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.