Adam Ottavino dominates in Red Sox relief debut
The Red Sox are working their way through the Grapefruit League with mixed results but plenty of positives to take away nonetheless. As Alex Cora and the team inch closer and closer to Opening Day I think we’re seeing players settling into their prospective roles for the upcoming campaign. One spot that still seems a bit uncertain is just who will be closing out games for Boston in 2021. In my opinion, we got that answer yesterday when Adam Ottavino stepped onto the mound.
The former Yankee made his Red Sox debut in an early relief scenario as he came into the gave after Matt Andriese pitched a rocky three innings. Otto would only see four batters though, striking out a pair and giving up a lone hit. Pretty damn good for a guy making his debut with his new team. Despite his appearance not coming later in the tilt where he’ll most likely be used during the season, he showed Cora and the fans that he’s here to do work.
He spoke to the media after the outing and Boston’s big righty was thrilled with how well his day went and how great it was to be in front of fans again. I’m sure Ottavino isn’t the only one that’s stoked to have fans back in the stand and this season just from an optics standpoint will be so much better than 2020.
"“I was happy with how it went,” Ottavino said. “I felt pretty good out there. It was exciting to have people in the crowd again. Throwing to (Christian) Vazquez for the first time in a game, that type of stuff was good to get out of the way. Physically, I felt good. That was the bonus.”"
Ottavino is entering his 11th year in the Majors with the Red Sox being his fourth team. He made his name with the Colorado Rockies having spent seven years in the Mile High City before signing with the Yankees ahead of the 2019 season. The veteran righty will be a free agent after this season so the implications of a strong campaign will be felt long-term. Not only is he trying to get another contract in general, but if he performs to what we’ve seen over his career, then that payday may come from Chaim Bloom.
Speaking of Bloom, if the Red Sox are in a similar place as last year and October baseball won’t be coming to Fenway Park, we very well could see Ottavino on the move. Chaim showed last year that he has no problems with trading away expiring contracts to refuel the farm system. If Otto is firing on all cylinders and a contender comes along with a deal that piques Boston’s interests, then the righty may be moving to his fifth team.
As I also said, if the Red Sox are fighting to get a spot in the postseason and Otto is what Bloom gambled on him being, we may see an extension offered. Boston hasn’t had a legitimate closer since Craig Kimbrel exited the team in the offseason prior to the 2019 campaign. Ottavino may not be a spring chicken but he’s definitely not over the hill and if he’s healthy he can be a serious weapon for Cora.
In regards to his debut with the club yesterday the reliever was pretty happy with what he was able to do in his one inning of work. Not only did he speak about how good he felt being back on the mound and how excited he’d be to get the closing job in Boston.
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"“It would be great,” Ottavino said. “The last time I had the job was right before I got hurt in 2015 and a little bit in 2016 when I came back. It was exciting and I really enjoyed it. It’s not something I feel like is a must for me, but it’s something I’d definitely embrace. If Alex (Cora) gives me the ball in the ninth, I’d definitely pumped up about that.”"
Ottavino came into camp with two primary competitors for the closing job in Matt Barns and Hirokazu Sawamura. Sawamura is a late entry to camp as he had to pass through COVID protocols but has since had a dazzling showing. And Barnes? Well, Red Sox Nation knows all too well what Matt Barnes does late in games and I think I can speak for most when I say I want him nowhere near the ninth inning. Granted he hasn’t been a closer in several years I still believe that Otto is the best option to finish out games for Boston in 2021.
Though it was only an inning of work and came very early in the game it was still a great outing from Adam Ottavino yesterday afternoon. I look forward to seeing him enter games a bit later as we get closer to Opening Day. In my eyes, the job is already his but as we know with Alex Cora he’s going to give everyone their fair shot at earning the spot in the lineup. One thing is for sure, I’m very excited to see what the righty can do with the Red Sox this season and possibly beyond.