Sox Find a Fix for Thornburg
By Jason Mastrodonato
It hasn’t taken long for the Red Sox coaching staff to come to the aid of a struggling pitcher during the 2018 season.
It took them less than 24 hours to help Tyler Thornburg.
Red Sox notebook
After a disastrous outing on Saturday in which he allowed three runs, two on a home run by the light-hitting Jose Iglesias, Thornburg reported to work Sunday morning and had a coaching staff full of ideas.
Pitching coach Dana LeVangie and bullpen coach Craig Bjornson “were looking at some video from Milwaukee and compared to last night,” manager Alex Cora said. “They found something, so hopefully that’s the last hurdle.”
Sunday, Thornburg entered in the ninth inning and recorded the first out on a single pitch. He then struck out JaCoby Jones on three pitches, and finished Iglesias on three pitches to complete a perfect inning on seven pitches, all strikes, to finish the Sox’ 9-1 win over the Tigers.
“Yeah that was good,” Cora said. “Fastballs up in the zone. They found something mechanically that they feel from now on he should be fine. That was good to see.”
Thornburg said he felt like he was close to a breakthrough on Saturday.
“I feel like it’s one thing away from clicking and getting on a roll,” Thornburg said. “I don’t know what that one little thing is yet but I feel like that’s why I kind of come out with a little bit of optimism every day. It’s like, is this going to be the day something clicks?
“I mean, honestly, I don’t really care about the numbers right now. I want to get back to being the guy that I can be. I know, regardless of numbers, if I get back to that point at some period this year, then all of a sudden I’m going to be able to help a hell of a lot more than I am.”
Thornburg, who was dominant for the Brewers in 2016 with a 2.15 ERA and 90 strikeouts in 67 innings, was out in the rain early yesterday morning working with LeVangie and Bjornson, who appeared to be showing him some mechanical adjustments.
Since making the long road back from surgery to treat thoracic outlet syndrome, Thornburg had been getting knocked around, with five runs allowed on seven hits in his first 41/3 innings. His fastball had averaged 93 mph (it averaged 95 mph the last time he pitched with the Brewers), but he was up to 94 mph Sunday.
Cora said Thornburg is healthy and “full-go,” able to be used on back-to-back days if necessary. Yesterday was the first time since 2016 he pitched on back-to-back days.
The 29-year-old right-hander said he’s still getting his strength back.
“There’s a ton (to deal) with after surgery, reconditioning the arm to put up with the stresses of pitching and being ready to pitch,” Thornburg said. “It’s a lot, but hopefully something clicks sooner rather than later.”
The Red Sox will be in Baltimore this week to face the Orioles for the first time since they traded Manny Machado to the Dodgers.
The O’s are last in the majors offensively, scoring 3.57 runs per game.
“It will be weird,” Cora said. “Honestly, he was one of those guys, before I got this job, he was one of my favorite players. It will be different, but they still have guys who hit the ball out of the ballpark. It’s kind of like the same kind of lineup, but obviously without one of the best hitters.
“He can go the other way. Obviously he’s a guy, you didn’t want him to beat you, but still you have to be careful with them, especially now in the summer, the ball is flying.”