Embree glad to be back with Red Sox
Left-handed reliever gives Boston's overworked 'pen fresh arm
TORONTO -- Alan Embree admits that life in the Minor Leagues was a reminder for him.
"You find out how spoiled you are up here," he said sitting in the visitors' clubhouse at Rogers Centre before Wednesday's game against the Blue Jays. "I'm probably the only guy in that league this year who used a heating pad on a bus."
After joining the Red Sox in March, the left-handed reliever started this season at Triple-A Pawtucket and was called up for Wednesday's game after not allowing a hit or a walk in his past five appearances.
"When you have younger guys around, you kind of get caught up in it and get reinvigorated," said the 40-year-old Embree.
In order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster, the club designated infielder Kevin Frandsen for assignment.
"I'm excited," said Embree. "When I signed, the goal was to get back here. It took a little longer than I anticipated and everybody else did, but it happened and I can't wait. I know [the bullpen has] been a little thin in recent games, so I'm just hoping to help bridge the gap to help win ballgames.
"I feel great. I threw a good game on [April 15 in Buffalo] and then I was able to repeat it in Rochester, and that's when things just took off. So I feel really comfortable with both [my fastball and curve], command and location. I feel strong right now."
His original deal called for him to be in the Majors by April 15 or he would be free to go elsewhere, but an extension to April 30 was worked out, and Embree said he needed the time. It's not certain how he will be used next.
The Red Sox will need to make another move before they face the Orioles on Saturday, when Daisuke Matsuzaka is activated off the 15-day disabled list.
Embree has pitched 882 times in his Major League career, going 39-45 with a 4.59 ERA. In 774 innings, he has 691 strikeouts. Opponents have hit .254 against him in his career. He pitched 211 times for the Red Sox, posting a 4.69 ERA.
Embree came up big for the Sox in the 2003 and '04 postseasons. In '03, he didn't allow a run in eight outings. Embree was called on 11 times by manager Terry Francona in the October '04 run to the title, posting a 2.45 ERA. In 31 career postseason outings, Embree has a 1.66 ERA.
When he reported to Fort Myers, Fla., this spring, Embree was issued his familiar No. 43 -- the same number he had on when he retired Ruben Sierra on a groundout to second base to record the final out of Game 7 of the historic 2004 American League Championship Series against the Yankees.
Embree pitched for the Rockies last season, but his season came to an abrupt end on July 10, when he suffered a broken right leg courtesy of a line drive off the bat of the Braves' Martin Prado.
That injury is no longer an issue. It would have been an inglorious way for his career to end, but the southpaw remained confident he'd return to the mound.
"Oh, obviously, when you've got a titanium rod for a shin and three deck screws, you wonder," Embree said during Spring Training. "When I was rehabbing and got back and could have been ready for the playoffs, I went down to instructional league, threw four innings and that pretty much answered that question. It was 'At what level?' and 'How much?' I was able to ski and play basketball and do all those things with my kids this winter, and I felt great."
Larry Millson is a contributor to MLB.com. Reporter Ian Browne contributed to this story. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.