When the Red Sox stretched him out as a starter in June, Morales figured he’d finally returned to his roots. Until the Rockies shifted him to the bullpen in 2009, Morales had been a starter his entire life.
Since getting summoned to start on June 17, Morales earned the right to stay, posting a 2-1 record with a 3.42 ERA and 33 strikeouts. But on Tuesday, the Red Sox scratched the six-man rotation, moving Morales to the bullpen to add another lefty.
While Morales is disappointed, he isn’t angry with the coaching staff by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, the 26-year-old candidly expressed his appreciation for Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine.
“I’m indebted to him for the confidence he’s put in me,” Morales said. “He gave me a really good opportunity, an opportunity to open everyone’s eyes. If they need me as a starter, I’ll be available. The most important thing is that I’m healthy.”
Morales initially joined the rotation when the team placed Josh Beckett on the disabled list. Once Beckett returned, Valentine employed a six-man rotation that included Morales, Beckett, Jon Lester, Aaron Cook, Felix Doubront and Daisuke Matsuzaka.
Shortly after Matsuzaka landed back on DL, the Red Sox activated starter Clay Buchholz, who was battling a stomach ailment. At that point, Valentine indicated the six-man rotation wouldn’t last much longer.
Considering the Red Sox have Rich Hill on the DL and only one southpaw in the bullpen — Andrew Miller — Morales was the obvious choice.
“It’s my job and I understand the situation the team is currently in and I’m going to try my best to help them in the bullpen,” Morales said. “I’m not the type to complain. Those are things in life that God puts to test you and it’s all about how you handle it. I’m a professional and I’m here as an employee.”
But Morales has gathered positives from the situation. With the Rockies organization, he flamed out as a starter 2008, compiling a 6.39 ERA in five major-league starts while tallying a 5.47 ERA in 21 starts in Triple-A.
In retrospect, Morales cites everything from his youth and inexperience –– he was 22 at the time –– to his command woes in Colorado. This time around, the lefty believes he’s demonstrated that he’s capable of starting in the majors.
“I have my concentration and I have my location,” Morales said. “I know I can be a starting pitcher. I’m consistent which is important –– and I didn’t have that before. Before [in Colorado], I threw way too many balls and I didn’t have my control. Now, I have three good pitches and I know I can get outs with them.”
With his performance, he’s put Boston’s opponents on notice.