BOSTON -- After spending eight seasons in the Minor Leagues, undergoing Tommy John surgery and the thought of quitting baseball becoming a real consideration, Tommy Hottovy's big league debut Friday night wasn't just everything he thought it would be.
"It was more," said Hottovy, all smiles after retiring the only batter he faced, David DeJesus, on three pitches in the sixth inning of Boston's 8-6 comeback win vs. Oakland. "Everything you imagined isn't even close to what it is. ... [This is] something I've been waiting for for a long time."
About two months ago, Hottovy was just another Minor League reliever throwing Spring Training games when the Red Sox regulars skipped a road trip.
"It was funny, because every time [Hottovy] pitched, we're like, 'This guy kind of has a lot of poise and he throws strikes and seems to be getting people out,'" manager Terry Francona said in his pregame meeting with the media.
Francona and the club took notice, and after allowing just one run over 8 1/3 innings with 10 strikeouts at Triple-A Pawtucket, Hottovy was called up Friday and made his Major League debut as a 29-year-old.
He replaced Rich Hill as the only left-hander in Boston's bullpen, as Hill was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left forearm strain and will likely have Tommy John surgery.
"Heck, two months ago I went to Spring Training not guaranteed anything," said Hottovy, the fourth Boston pitcher to make his Major League debut at age 29 or older since 1946. "With all the guys the Red Sox brought in, I had to start the year in [Double-A] Portland after being there parts of five seasons.
"I wanted to be a pitcher in the big leagues my whole life and it was going to take a lot for me to not make it here."
Hottovy was a fourth-round Draft pick in 2004, and he was being groomed as a starter in the Minors before Tommy John surgery in 2008 forced him to move to the bullpen. Things were so grim during his rehab that he picked up a part-time job waiting tables with one arm at Arizona Pizza Company in Fort Myers, Fla., a shop that's no longer in business, just to keep busy.
And after struggling to get left-handed batters out post-surgery, he lowered his arm angle about six inches. His new delivery worked wonders as he began to master it while working with Hill, who was going through the same process.
Hottovy faced 12 left-handed batters with Pawtucket and didn't allow a hit. Across two levels this season, he fanned 28 batters in 27 innings, walking just five with a 1.67 ERA.
"He's been through a lot," said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. "He's had injury, bounced back. Any age you get called up is great, but to go through that is obviously an unbelievable feeling. I saw him walk in the clubhouse today, smile on his face, he was the most excited guy I've ever seen."
Hottovy entered Friday's game in the top of the sixth inning with two outs and Coco Crisp on first base, with the Sox losing 6-5.
Tough spot for a rookie? Nope. Francona thought it was perfect timing.
"Yes, it sure was," the skipper said. "And he looked like he had a lot of poise. He threw strikes. You know, he seemed excited like you're supposed to be. I don't think being nervous got to him. He executed his pitches. We were kind of hoping for something like that."
Dice-K will undergo Tommy John surgery
BOSTON -- A Friday evening conference call between Red Sox medical director Dr. Tom Gill and renowned orthopedist Dr. Lewis Yocum confirmed what the sides basically already knew: Right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka will undergo Tommy John surgery at some point next week.
Yocum will perform the ligament transfer procedure on Matsuzaka's elbow, which will take the righty out for the rest of 2011 and at least a good chunk of '12.
"What we're concerned about is what's best for Dice-K," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said.
The Red Sox and Matsuzaka waited a couple of weeks, hoping surgery could be avoided.
"I think originally when anything like this happens and you get a pitcher of that age and throwing the pitches he has, non-surgical is always hopefully the best way to go," Francona said.
Matsuzaka's contract with the Red Sox expires at the end of next season, which means there's at least the possibility he won't throw another pitch in a Boston uniform. However, the righty expressed determination to pitch again before that contract runs out.
"It takes a little more to come back as a starter," said Francona. "Saying that, he is very driven to come back and help us next year. I think he's going to take this upon himself, be kind of competitive -- kind of like he's been pitching -- and attack the rehab when it comes. He was really good yesterday. I was really proud of him the way he talked, the way he handled it. He's going to do the best he can."
Matsuzaka was 3-3 with a 5.30 ERA in eight starts this season. John Lackey will return to Boston's rotation on Sunday.
In the meantime, some combination of Tim Wakefield and Alfredo Aceves will fill the fifth spot in the rotation. Francona indicated that one of those two pitchers would start in the series at Toronto next weekend.
Second opinion sought, but surgery likely for Hill
BOSTON -- Rich Hill is still in the process of scheduling a second opinion, but he is all but resigned to the fact that his 2011 season is over and Tommy John surgery is on the horizon.
It is a tough pill to swallow for a lefty reliever who had already overcome shoulder surgery and had found a niche since being transformed from a starter.
Not only that, but Hill had found his comfort zone with his hometown team, the Boston Red Sox.
"Yeah, the frustrating part is that you find a niche for yourself in the bullpen and to have something happen that's possibly season ending, that's something that's tough to swallow. But at the same time, if it is a surgical procedure that needs to happen, the success rate is there and you rehab," said Hill. "I've been through it once, so you have to come back and be strong again and then come back from another surgery."
After not making the team out of Spring Training, Hill was promoted to Boston on May 5 and emerged into manager Terry Francona's best lefty reliever.
In nine outings, he pitched eight shutout innings, allowing only three hits.
"I think probably surgery is inevitable there," Francona said. "Saying that, we're in the midst of figuring out ... what's in his best interest. He's a great kid, lives in Southie. He worked so hard during the winter. He wanted an opportunity and he was making the most of it, so it hurts when he gets hurt. We'll figure out a way to win. I just think we feel more for him right now."
The MRI performed by the Red Sox's medical staff revealed that Hill's ulnar collateral ligament was three-quarters torn.
"It was just really on that pitch [from Wednesday's game]," Hill said. "I could feel the ball come off my fingers, and then as soon as it left my fingers, it was a snap. At first, I was kind of optimistic. I was thinking it was probably scar tissue that had broken up, and you kind of get that snap feeling from the scar tissue. I didn't feel the common symptoms of tingling down the arm or numbness or anything like that."
Youk, Crawford, Adrian design jerseys, T-shirts
BOSTON -- Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Kevin Youkilis spent hours during Spring Training personally designing their own jerseys and T-shirts, and before Friday's game, they unveiled the new apparel at the Majestic Clubhouse Store on Yawkey Way.
The Signature Series product-line made its debut in 2009 and has since been a hit, said Michael Johnson, the vice president of marketing for Majestic. The Yankees, Phillies and Giants will also unveil player-designed apparel later this year.
Each player put their own personal touch into the project and worked with artists to design a jersey and T-shirt.
"I think the cool thing is everyone puts a little bit of their heritage into it," said Youkilis, whose T-shirt includes the phrase "L'Chaim," which is a common Jewish drink toast that means 'To Life" in Hebrew. "So I think it's pretty cool. We're all known to be baseball players in Boston, but there's also a lot more to us than just baseball players."
The white jersey designed by Youkilis has Beantown written across the front, Yoouuk as the name on the back, an American flag colored in the No. 20 and a picture of his goatee on the sleeve.
"People always love the goatee and I'm kind of recognized by it," he said.
Crawford wanted to create the old Negro League look with his jersey, which is a basic red uniform with a large felt "B" on the front, while Gonzalez added a Mexican touch with his country's colors on the sleeve.
The limited-edition apparel can be purchased on MLB.com.
Marco Scutaro took batting practice on the field before Friday's game, and manager Terry Francona said there's a chance the shortstop could begin a rehab assignment soon. Scutaro has been on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left oblique since May 8.
David Ortiz has been on fire of late, and he has a hit a home run in two straight games leading into Friday's matchup with Oakland. He has four homers in his last eight games and is tied for third in the Majors with 44 home runs since the beginning of May 2010.
Darnell McDonald went 2-for-3 with two RBIs during his rehab stint with Triple-A Pawtucket on Thursday night and is 4-for-9 with a home run and six RBIs in three rehab games.
Red Sox pitching coach Curt Young served in the same role for the A's for seven years prior to this season, leading the teams to an American League-best 4.03 ERA in that time. Oakland entered Friday's game leading the AL with a 3.01 ERA this season.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. Jason Mastrodonato is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.