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Injured Barnes anxious to return to PawSox's rotation

April 16, 2014

Matt Barnes

PAWTUCKET — The right shoulder tenderness that grounded Matt Barnes for the majority of spring training has subsided to the point where the Red Sox pitching prospect believes it’s only a matter of time before he departs Fort Myers.

When Barnes will be officially granted exile so that he can take the mound for the PawSox … let’s just say there’s a cloak and dagger element in play.

“I don’t know when I’m leaving, but all I know is that I feel real good right now,” said Barnes from Florida earlier this week. “I’ll let the people who are in charge make the important decisions.”

Barnes, 23, was shut down the first week of March. Reports at the time said nothing was wrong structure-wise with his shoulder. Barnes was present during Boston’s Rookie Development Program that took place in mid-January with all appearing to be fine at that time. He admitted that the malady came up suddenly, perhaps not long after tossing a scoreless inning in an exhibition game against Boston College on Feb. 27.

“I’m good,” expressed Barnes, who was sidelined for a week after the Red Sox announced that they were going to err on the side of caution with one of the more highly regarded arms in the farm system. “I’m just down here pitching and looking to get up (to Pawtucket) as soon as possible.”

At PawSox Media Day earlier this month, it was revealed that Barnes had appeared in an extended spring training contest prior to the Triple-A ballclub departing north. According to Barnes, he’s made four appearances in extended spring training.

“It’s frustrating, but I’m getting better and we’ll move on,” Barnes stressed. “It’s not the best situation, but it’s not the worst. I have a few buddies who are down here.”

Before encountering a setback, Barnes appeared ticketed to be part of a Pawtucket rotation that including fellow promising pitchers Anthony Ranaudo, Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa. Instead, he’s been forced to deal with the first injury setback of his professional career.

“It’s a long season and that’s why we did what we did,” said Barnes. “A couple of weeks on the front end to ensure a healthy season is something that we were willing to do.”

A 2011 first-round selection by Boston, Barnes will embark on his third pro season upon receiving proper clearance. He spent the vast majority of the 2013 campaign with Double-A Portland before making three starts for Pawtucket, two coming in the Governors’ Cup playoffs.

Barnes is unsure whether he’ll make a rehab start with either one of Boston’s Single-A affiliates, Salem or Greenville, before rejoining the PawSox.

“Honestly, your guess is as good as mine as to what I’m doing once I leave here,” said Barnes, who has posted a 3.48 ERA in 50 minor-league career starts while striking out 275 batters in 233 innings.

A Connecticut native who attended UConn, Barnes was glued to the television set as he watched the Huskies’ men’s and women’s basketball programs climb to the top of their respective domains.

“I watched every single game that they had,” Barnes proudly stated.

Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03

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