Penny to debut in intrasquad game
If all goes well, veteran will slot into Sox's rotation next week
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Over the past few days, Brad Penny has started talking a lot about mechanics and fine-tuning his delivery. To Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell, that is the clearest sign yet that Penny has started to clear the mental and physical hurdles that relate to the right shoulder that ailed him so much last season.
With that in mind, Penny will take the mound for his first game of Spring Training on Friday, albeit in an intrasquad contest at the club's Minor League complex.
"I think he's getting to the point where the baseball adjustments are taking place, where the condition of his shoulder is almost in the back of his mind," said Farrell. "Now it's a matter of repeating his delivery, feeling his timing, being erratic at times and making the adjustments to correct it. When you hear a pitcher makes comments along those lines, then you know that the physical elements are not even being thought of. Those are all encouraging signs."
Penny threw 20 pitches -- just fastballs and curveballs out of the windup -- of batting practice before Tuesday's game, his last step before he embarks on a game schedule.
"Friday will be more of a game situation where he'll have to incorporate the other aspects of his delivery," said Farrell, "but today was, as I mentioned, a very good step for him."
If all goes well for Penny on Friday, he will likely be slotted into the Grapefruit League rotation by the middle of next week. But after already slowing down Penny's schedule once this spring, the Red Sox and the pitcher are trying to look only three to four days down the road before mapping out the next step.
"The way he responds to the workloads gives us the go-ahead to keep mapping out going forward, but the past eight days have been extremely positive," said Farrell.
Pitching in a game at Minor League camp will be a natural first step of game action for Penny, given his schedule.
"It's done for a reason," said Farrell. "We're 10 days into the schedule here and hitters have benefited from 10 days of getting their timing down, and what we don't want to do is get him into a 30-to-35 pitch inning just to get through it where it may overload him in his first outing. That's why the next progressive step would be in that intrasquad type setting."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.