Villarreal, 26, was acquired from the Detroit Tigers as part of the three-team deal that sent infielder Jose Iglesias to the Tigers and brought pitcher Jake Peavy to Boston from the Chicago White Sox on July 30. At the time of the trade, Villarreal was on the disabled list with the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens with a right thumb injury. The right-handed reliever was 2-2 with one save and a 3.15 ERA with 41 strikeouts in 28 appearances for Toledo. He also appeared in seven games for the Tigers, posting a 0-2 record and allowed 10 runs in 4 1/3 innings.
Villarreal made his PawSox debut in the eighth inning of Pawtucket’s 6-5 win over the Louisville Bats on Wednesday afternoon at McCoy Stadium. He allowed one hit with one walk and one strikeout in his inning of work, while showcasing his fastball between 94 and 97 mph.
Prior to the trade, the PawSox faced Villarreal when he was with Toledo.
“It’s an explosive fastball,” said PawSox manager Gary DiSarcina. “It’s a power arm. I don’t even think he got a chance to throw many sliders, but he’s what we saw in Toledo, a very exciting arm.”
After Wednesday’s game, Villarreal spent nearly an hour working out. He said he felt good.
“Great. I feel a lot of emotion playing with this new team and just excited trying to do my job right now,” Villarreal said. “I’m 100 percent ready.”
He was even more excited when asked about the recent trade.
“I can’t even explain how excited I am right now with this team,” he said. “When I got the news I got traded, I used to like Boston from when I was little, and when I got the news I called my dad and he was excited because it was Boston. I’m very happy, very happy right now.”
He admitted his favorite players growing up were Normar Garciaparra and David Ortiz.