Rich Hill Impressed By Matt Barnes’ Fastball During Rehab Assignment

Barnes is getting closer

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July 30

It’s been a long road back to Boston for Matt Barnes, but the Red Sox pitcher took a step in the right direction this week.

Barnes tossed a perfect fourth inning with two strikeouts for the Portland Sea Dogs on Thursday, with his fastball topping out at 96 mph. This was his best outing during his rehab assignment after struggling in the Florida Complex League and for the Worcester Red Sox.

Rich Hill, who also was in Portland on a rehab assignment, told Red Sox manager Alex Cora that he was impressed with what he saw from Barnes.

“It was a very competitive fastball,” Cora told reporters of what Hill said to him, per MassLive. “It had carry. … He had the carry he had early in the season or two years ago. So that was encouraging. Barnsey felt good about it.

“The breaking ball was good. So he has one (Friday) and then hopefully everything goes well.”

The plan for Barnes — who’s been on the injured list since June 1 — is to be with the Red Sox on Saturday to figure out what his next step will be. If the reliever can return to his old self from the first half of the 2021 season, he certainly would provide some nice depth and stability to the bullpen.

The Red Sox return to action Saturday afternoon for their middle game against the Milwaukee Brewers. First pitch is set for 4:10 p.m. ET and you can catch all the action beginning at 3 p.m. on NESN.

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