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PAWTUCKET â€” 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 itâ€™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 â€¦ letâ€™s just say thereâ€™s a cloak and dagger element in play.
â€śI donâ€™t know when Iâ€™m leaving, but all I know is that I feel real good right now,â€ť said Barnes from Florida earlier this week. â€śIâ€™ll let the people who are in charge make the important decisions.â€ť
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 Bostonâ€™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.
â€śIâ€™m good,â€ť 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. â€śIâ€™m just down here pitching and looking to get up (to Pawtucket) as soon as possible.â€ť
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, heâ€™s made four appearances in extended spring training.
â€śItâ€™s frustrating, but Iâ€™m getting better and weâ€™ll move on,â€ť Barnes stressed. â€śItâ€™s not the best situation, but itâ€™s not the worst. I have a few buddies who are down here.â€ť
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, heâ€™s been forced to deal with the first injury setback of his professional career.
â€śItâ€™s a long season and thatâ€™s why we did what we did,â€ť said Barnes. â€śA couple of weeks on the front end to ensure a healthy season is something that we were willing to do.â€ť
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 Governorsâ€™ Cup playoffs.
Barnes is unsure whether heâ€™ll make a rehab start with either one of Bostonâ€™s Single-A affiliates, Salem or Greenville, before rejoining the PawSox.
â€śHonestly, your guess is as good as mine as to what Iâ€™m doing once I leave here,â€ť 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 Huskiesâ€™ menâ€™s and womenâ€™s basketball programs climb to the top of their respective domains.
â€śI watched every single game that they had,â€ť Barnes proudly stated.
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