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 itâs 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 âŠ letâs just say thereâs a cloak and dagger element in play.
âI donât know when Iâm leaving, but all I know is that I feel real good right now,â said Barnes from Florida earlier this week. âIâll let the people who are in charge make the important decisions.â
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 Bostonâs 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.
âIâm good,â 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. âIâm just down here pitching and looking to get up (to Pawtucket) as soon as possible.â
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, heâs made four appearances in extended spring training.
âItâs frustrating, but Iâm getting better and weâll move on,â Barnes stressed. âItâs not the best situation, but itâs not the worst. I have a few buddies who are down here.â
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, heâs been forced to deal with the first injury setback of his professional career.
âItâs a long season and thatâs why we did what we did,â said Barnes. âA couple of weeks on the front end to ensure a healthy season is something that we were willing to do.â
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 heâll make a rehab start with either one of Bostonâs Single-A affiliates, Salem or Greenville, before rejoining the PawSox.
âHonestly, your guess is as good as mine as to what Iâm doing once I leave here,â 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 menâs and womenâs basketball programs climb to the top of their respective domains.
âI watched every single game that they had,â Barnes proudly stated.
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