BRADENTON, Fla. -- Red Sox closer Koji Uehara wasn’t supposed to pitch until deeper into the exhibition schedule, according to John Farrell’s original plan, but he made the trip here and picked up where he left off in the World Series, throwing 14 pitches, 10 for strikes, whiffing Robert Andino and Starling Marte and retiring Clint Barmes on a weak popup in the Sox's 7-6 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Shocking, someone said to starter Brandon Workman.
“Shocking that he threw four balls, that’s what was shocking about that,’’ Workman said.
Workman may have been joking, but the facts bear him out. Uehara’s strike percentage Monday was 71.4 percent. During the 2013 regular season, it was a stunning 73.9 percent (775 strikes in 1049 pitches).
A.J. Pierzynski’s review?
“I mean, strike, strike, strike, strike, strike -- pretty good, right?’’ said the Sox receiver after his first time catching Uehara in a game. “Nice to know the guy can throw a pitch any time and be able to locate it and put it where he wants. It’s easy to see why he had a great year.’’
Asked about Uehara’s split, Pierzynski said, “There’s a lot of deception there. His glove is like this big [holding his hands wide apart] and bright orange. He hides it behind that. I faced him in 2002 in Japan. He threw a little harder then, but he was really good.’’
Uehara said he originally thought maybe he’d be pitching later in camp, but said he was asked to go Monday and he complied. “I was ready to go,’’ he said.
He said he wouldn’t have had any problem telling manager John Farrell or pitching coach Juan Nieves if he had preferred to wait.
“I have my own opinion,’’ he said, “and I’m pretty comfortable to communicate my opinion if the need arises.’’
Koji in midseason form, in March?
“He continues on,’’ Farrell said. “That’s the best you can say. After four months down, he picks up where he left off, and he’s just a joy to watch pitch.’’