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Armed and ready

A spring evaluation of the Red Sox pitching staff

FT. MYERS, Fla. -- Last night at Stevie Tomato’s Sports Page, a popular sports bar in Ft. Myers, a longtime regular and Yankee fan was raving about the big names in the Yankees starting rotation and deep bullpen. You know who they are.

He asked the Red Sox fan he was chatting with, “Who’s the Red Sox ace? [Curt] Schilling is hurt. Pedro [Martinez] and [Derek] Lowe are gone. Matt Clement? [Tim] Wakefield? He’s a knuckleballer, when you hit that thing it goes. [Bronson] Arroyo the kid?”

With nine games to go until Boston’s Opening Night showdown against the Yankees, here’s a quick review of the Sox pitching staff’s performance so far this spring, understanding that just stretching out on the mound is sometimes more important than statistics (all numbers through Thursday’s action, except Curt Schilling’s).

Curt Schilling: His original projection of being a month behind seems to have been accurate. All the talk of his rushing back for the opener sent the Nation into an ill-advised frenzy. Schilling gets a mulligan no matter what happens this season as he led the Sox to the promised land last year, risking his own health in the process. He says the ankle is not bothering him, which is the best news possible. And while he said he felt good after his brief minor league stint on Monday, the real test came today against the Twins: He surrendered three runs in 3 2/3 innings in his first official work or the spring. It was his first and likely last start of the spring, though he may throw against minor leaguers next Wednesday.

Spring grade: Incomplete

David Wells: He made a late spring debut on March 12 against the Devil Rays, taking the mound while battling the flu. The big man worked two innings, giving up an earned run on four hits. Wells didn’t fare too well in his next start against a split-squad Marlins team in the St. Patty’s Day make-up, surrendering six hits and three earned runs in four innings of work. But his control was tight and he only walked one. The Opening Night starter did not fare as well against the Orioles in a rain-shorted game on Wednesday as he was pounded for 11 hits and six earned runs in six innings. But as usual, he pointed to his 18 years in the big leagues and was just happy to get his pitch count up again. However, the fans in the stands were more concerned about his ball being up in the strike zone early and often that day. Wells enters the last week of spring with a 7.50 ERA and has given up a team-high 21 hits (only two walks) and 10 earned runs in 12 innings of work. A Nation has its fingers crossed that this signing will work out in the long run.   Continued...

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