Wednesday, March 3, 2010 Updated: March 4, 8:24 AM ET
Boof Bonser glad to be back on mound
By Joe McDonald ESPNBoston.com
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- With a name like Boof, he must be good.
At least that's what the Red Sox are hoping for from right-handed pitcher Boof Bonser, who in 2001 legally changed his first name from John to Boof, which was a nickname he's had since he was a child.
He was acquired last Dec. 10 from Minnesota for a player to be named (right-hander Chris Province), and he certainly has the personality to go along with his name.
"He's a good kid," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "We didn't know him coming in, and we've enjoyed getting to know him. Even in the rag-ball drills when I was whacking balls off of guys, he was all over the place, getting his chest in front of it and having fun. We're looking forward to getting to know him."
After missing the entire 2009 season, Boof Bonser was happy just to be back on the pitcher's mound.
The 28-year-old Bonser started against Boston College on Wednesday night at City of Palms Park and worked a perfect first inning, with one strikeout. He tossed nine pitches (seven strikes).
"It went great. I'm glad it's over," he said. "It's my first spring training game in two years. I know people will say, 'It's a college team.' Well, to me a college team wants to beat your brains in more than a regular team does. I'm glad it's over."
Bonser was able to mix in his fastball, curveball and changeup, but stayed away from his slider. He's scheduled to throw two innings against the Orioles on Sunday in Sarasota. Bonser missed the entire 2009 season after having arthroscopic surgery to repair partial tears to the labrum and rotator cuff in his right shoulder.
"Before surgery, I would throw for about a half hour to get the shoulder going," he said. "Now it's nice and easy and I don't have anything to worry about. It actually feels normal, healthy again."
He wasn't so much concerned with the pitches he was able to throw Wednesday night; he was more concerned with his health.
"It wasn't the stuff, it was more of the shoulder letting go," he said. "That was the biggest key. Yeah, my stuff was there -- knock on wood it's always there. But the biggest key was my shoulder letting it ride."
After his brief outing, Bonser had his right shoulder wrapped in ice before walking into the small interview room to meet with the local media.
"Wow! I'm not used to seeing this much media," he said. "My goodness."
It's clear he's having a lot of fun with his new club this spring.
"I've got to have fun," he said. "That's what it's about, joking around and having a good time."
As he sat at a white folding table, Bonser kept tapping his right index finger. It was clear he had a pretty nasty blister on the tip of it.
"It looks a little nasty, but I've got it glued up," he said. "I'm keeping Super Glue's stock up right now because how much I'm using on my finger."
Unlike fellow Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett, who has dealt with blister problems many times in the past, Bonser said he's only had the problem within the last year.
"I just can't get rid of it, for some reason," he said. "But, no, it hasn't bothered me, yet. As soon as [Beckett] found out I had a finger problem, he was in my ear. I [now] know the method of bad fingers."
Even though he won't be playing the next couple of games against the Twins on Thursday, Friday or Saturday, Bonser said it'll be weird to sit in the opposing dugout against his former teammates.
"A little bit. But I'm sure once we get done taking BP, I'll go over and say hello to the guys. You can bet I'll be on that top step, giving everybody a hard time, especially if something happens. I'll be that guy chirping a lot."
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Bonser made his major league debut with the Twins in 2006 and during his time with Minnesota he posted an 18-25 record with a 5.12 ERA in 96 games (60 starts).
Francona has been impressed with Bonser in the past when he was a starter for the Twins, and he was again Wednesday night.
"I thought he was good," said Francona. "Looking at a guy who had the problems he's had physically, and then to look at his clean arm action, I think it's phenomenal. It jumps out at you. That was a very encouraging inning. Just to watch him go through his delivery, and let the ball come out of his hand like that, we were really encouraged."
The Red Sox are not counting on him to be the club's No. 3 starter, but if he's healthy, Bonser will add to Boston's organizational pitching depth and could serve as a solid insurance plan.
"If this works, we've got a guy who knows what he's doing," Francona said.
Joe McDonald covers the Red Sox and Bruins for ESPNBoston.com.