PAWTUCKET – This wasn’t the Triple-A debut Kyle Weiland had in mind.
Hailed as one of the better starting pitching prospects in the farm system, Weiland was tagged for four runs on seven hits in three innings as Rochester won, 7-2, before 4,360 frigid souls at McCoy Stadium. The Red Wings made Weiland’s stay on the mound a short one after belting four extra base hits off the right-hander, one of them a solo home run by Trevor Plouffe in the third inning.
Naturally Pawtucket skipper Arnie Beyeler was looking to get more length out of Weiland, who ranked second among Red Sox minor pitches in strikeouts a season ago (125).
“He’s got a real good sinker when he’s on top of the ball,” said Beyeler, who managed Weiland in Double-A Portland. “He’ll get in trouble when he leaves pitches up in the zone [which is what happened last night].”
The only bit of offense the PawSox generated came in the sixth when Ryan Kalish came through with a two-run double. Productive hits proved to be hard to come by as Pawtucket managed just seven hits after producing two runs on six hits the night before. Third baseman Yamaico Navarro did contribute two doubles.
The PawSox did suffer a scare to end the last of the fourth, when Rochester’s Trevor Plouffe slid into the knees of shortstop Jose Iglesias. There was some obvious discomfort as Iglesias remained on the group for several minutes with Beyeler and team trainer Jon Jochim by his side. However, Iglesias was able to walk off the field on his own power. He remained in the game, collecting an infield hit in the ninth.
The winds of change blew through the home clubhouse for the first time this season on Friday, as Pawtucket welcomed pitchers Kris Johnson and Tony Pena Jr. Both had been stationed in extended spring training in Fort Myers.
Johnson is expected to take Alfredo Aceves’ spot in the starting rotation when the spot comes up next Tuesday in Buffalo. Given that he’s been down for some time, it’s possible that the lefty could see action over the weekend in Syracuse. A former third round pick of Boston, Johnson has gone 9-26 in two seasons with Pawtucket.
Beyeler wasted little time throwing Pena Jr. into the fray, as the son of former Red Sox catcher and current Yankees coach Tony Pena followed Weiland to the mound. Signed to a minor-league deal by Boston in January, Pena Jr. allowed three runs on six hits in three innings. He takes the place of reliever Randy Williams, who was placed on the disabled list with shoulder soreness.
“This is all new to me, but that’s to be expected around here,” said Beyeler about shuffling bodies in and out. “It’s up to me to figure out how it all works out.”
Rochester 022 012 000 – 7-14-0
Pawtucket 000 002 000 – 2-7-1
Eric Hacker (W, 1-0), Carlos Gutierrez (6), Jim Hoey (7), Kyle Waldrop (9) and Steve Holm. Kyle Weiland (L, 0-1), Tony Pena Jr. (4), Jason Rice (7), Clevelan Santeliz (9) and Michael McKenry. 2B: Brian Dinkelman 2, Rene Tosoni, Trevor Plouffe; Yamaico Navarro 2, Lars Anderson, Ryan Kalish. 3B: Dustin Martin. HR: Plouffe.