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PAWTUCKET â Justin Germano knows a decision lies ahead. Come Saturday night, the right-hander and de facto ace of Pawtucketâs pitching staff will take the mound in Lehigh Valley.
The following day, Germano will choose whether to stick with the PawSox for the rest of the season or seek employment with another club. If itâs the latter, Germano â named to the International League All-Star team earlier in the week â would have no shortage of suitors.
The 29-year-old has a July 1 opt-out clause in his contract. Speaking in the clubhouse Friday afternoon, Germano admitted that no final decision has been made, though speculation exists that Saturday could be the last time he pitches for Pawtucket.
âThe ballâs definitely in [my] court,â Germano said, âbut with a few days left, anything can happen.
âIâm just going to have to let my agent do his job and see what the Red Sox are thinking and make a decision from there,â he continued. âItâs not that I want to leave. The organization is great and I enjoy my teammates.â
Germano is right about being in a position of strength while negotiating his future with the Red Sox. He ranks in the top 10 in the following pitching categories: wins (eight), ERA (2.60), innings pitched (97) and WHIP (0.94). By compiling said numbers, Germano has enhanced his status to the point where if Boston needed a starter in a pinch, he would be at the top of the list.
First, though, Germano would have to be added to the 40-man roster.
âI think Iâve definitely opened some eyes,â said Germano, who was signed to a minor-league deal with Boston in January after spending the previous two seasons in Clevelandâs system. âIâve put a lot of work into refining my mechanics and finding something that allows me to put up consistent numbers.â
Heâs also been privy to the chronicles of two Pawtucket pitchers who earlier this season had to weigh the pros and cons of opting out or staying put. The Red Sox were able to keep Aaron Cook past his May 1 opt-out date, while Ross Ohlendorf used his June 1 opt-out clause to find work elsewhere, which he did with the San Diego Padres.
âThereâs tons of teams hurting right now, which is something you definitely have to take into consideration,â said Germano of the job market for pitchers. âEven if itâs another minor-league job with an opportunity that may sound better, you have to take that into account when making a final decision.â
While Germano mulls over his future with the Red Sox, relief pitcher Will Inman formulated the opinion that staying with Pawtucket for the rest of the 2012 season represented his best option. Fellow pitchers Brandon Duckworth and Doug Mathis also chose not to exercise the opt-out dates that recently came and went.
The 25-year-old Inman had a June 15 opt-out date that was devoid of fanfare due to the comfort level he has with the PawSox.
âThis was actually my first year with an option written into my contract, so Iâm really unfamiliar with how everything goes down,â said Inman, who entering Friday was tied with Garrett Mock for the Pawtucket lead in appearances (24). âItâs individually different for where youâre at in your career and what youâre looking for, but a lot of other variables come into play.
âIf you really want to find out whatâs out there you can go out and look, but the grass isnât always greener. Thatâs what I was pretty sure that I was going to stay here unless something drastic came up,â Inman continued. âFor us (ballplayers), itâs not just âHey, youâre playing at a new field.â You have a family to consider and start new [apartment] leases. I think mentally, just being comfortable in one place is something that really helps and correlates to good performance on the field.â