Thanks to our colleague, Billy Humphrey, at ESPNBoston.com for passing along quotes from assistant GM Thad Levine. One that I found interesting:
"You know considering he was coming from a position of being a free agent we talked to him openly about the fact that our goal was to guarantee him a spot on the 12-man staff, provided that he performed," Levine said. "So we did have conversations about, that could be in the capacity as a reliever, when we have had Scott Feldman, Alexi Ogando, in recent years Derek Holland pitch out of the bullpen. Guys who are accomplished starters. So we've done that in the past, because we are always trying focus on getting the best 12 men we can together. So from our perspective we at least had that dialog up front."
I think that's an interesting point Levine is making. Other quality starters have ended up in the bullpen for this club. Feldman won 17 games in 2009 but couldn't stick in the rotation because of struggles and injuries. He's back there now and pitching well. Ogando was an All-Star starter in 2011 but finished the season in the bullpen and has been there most of 2012. So Oswalt wouldn't be the only one in that situation. Yes, he came here to start. But things change with contending teams all the time.
More of Levine's thoughts:
Q: Where does the situation stand with Oswalt?
"We view that Roy is a productive member of our 12-man staff right now. He is pitching very well out of the bullpen. We don't always listen to requests made by players, but the bottom line is the priority is what the team needs at the time, and right now he is serving a very valuable role."
Q: Has he requested to be traded?
"We had internal discussions with him and he has handled himself professionally in those conversations, but the exact nature of those I think we should keep in house at this time. He would like to start and I think he has made no, you know, no bones about that. Right now there is not an opportunity with our team to do that, but we do feel he is playing a very valuable role."
Q: Wash commented and said Oswalt had said he has had enough, do you guys view that he wasn't willing to go out and pitch or what is it?
"I think Wash, Mike Maddux, and Andy Hawkins have to manage the pitching staff as best they can. We are talking about his second relief appearance as he's transitioning from a career starter to a member of a productive bullpen. So as that transition continues I think there is going to be some growing and some role changes as that goes along. So I don't think we read into that too much, other than the fact that he's getting acclimated to a new role."
Q: Do you expect for him to be with the team the remainder of the season?
"Absolutely, he's part of the club right now. He's a productive member of the 12-man staff and we don't expect that to change."
Q: When you guys signed him did you say we need you as a starter? Did you promise him that he was going to start?
"Well I think the expectation was for a guy who had been a career starter, was that was the role he was gonna serve with us, but I think were in the midst of a pennant race unlike any that we have seen in the last two years where we feel as if every game counts. So it is our job to work with the coaching staff to try to put the best staff together that we can to try to win this division. We don't take it for granted that we're just going to be able to do that, so we're trying to be as competitive as we can be game in and game out."