BOSTON — Red Sox pitcher Chris Capuano was thrown into a big spot Monday at Fenway Park. The veteran left-hander seized the opportunity, adding to the 35-year-old’s impressive start to the season.
Capuano, who was signed by the Red Sox at the beginning of spring training once Ryan Dempster announced he wouldn’t pitch in 2013, tossed a scoreless eighth inning Monday as Boston clung to a 2-1 lead over the Texas Rangers. It was a situation in which manager John Farrell turned to Capuano over Junichi Tazawa based on matchups, but it’s clear the Red Sox view the southpaw as much more than just a swingman capable of eating up frames.
“It probably goes back to his veteran status. He knows what’s needed to get ready to come into a game when he’s not starting,” Farrell said Tuesday of Capuano adapting to a relief role. “He’s an extremely intelligent guy and in getting to know him in spring training, he reads swings very well. His pitch selection has been pretty spot-on in terms of disrupting hitters’ timing. He’s not just a multi-inning guy, evident by matching up (Monday) night in the eighth inning.”
Capuano surrendered a leadoff single to Shin-Soo Choo on Monday before retiring Elvis Andrus and Prince Fielder. Fielder grounded into a 4-6-3 double play that helped Capuano preserve Boston’s lead, which eventually turned into a 5-1 Red Sox win.
“I’ve just been trying to stay in a good routine so that I stay sharp and I’m ready to go every day,” Capuano said Monday after being thrust into the crucial situation. “I’m just trying to attack the glove and hit my spots and stay aggressive.”
Capuano, who also helped settle things down Saturday following Clay Buchholz’s disastrous outing, entered Tuesday’s game against the Rangers having allowed just three hits over four scoreless innings so far this season. It’s likely he won’t find himself in too many high-leverage spots, especially with left-hander Craig Breslow set to return, but Monday’s effort served as further proof that Capuano, who has been used mostly as a starter throughout his 10-year career, is more than capable of making an impact out of the bullpen this season.
“It certainly helps me the more I can get out there and the more I can feel comfortable,” Capuano said Monday. “It helps my confidence.”
As Capuano’s confidence increases, so too does the Red Sox’s confidence in the lefty.