ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Before the Red Sox announced that pitcher Clayton Mortensen had been placed on the 15-day disabled list with what the team called a right groin strain, Mortensen was summoned by pitching coach Juan Nieves for a meeting with manager John Farrell on Tuesday afternoon, perhaps to make sure everyone had the story straight.
Mortensen, who pitched a scoreless ninth inning, played his part to perfection, saying the condition was something that has bothered him since early April.
“Upper groin, hip injury, guess you could call it hip, upper groin in general -- it’s just something that’s been there a long time. It’s been present since the beginning of April,’’ Mortensen said. “I’ve been battling it the last few months. Some days are good, some days are bad. Last night [bothered] me a little bit. Came in today, we decided it would be good to do, just knock it out over the next 15 days, get it right, get back out there.’’
Mortensen said the injury had “affected him a little bit’’ this season.
Mortensen has a 1-2 record with a 5.34 ERA in 24 appearances, and before Monday night had been scored upon in four of his previous six appearances, including a two-inning stint against the Indians on May 23 in which he was knocked around for five runs.
But Monday night, Mortensen, who usually pitches what in baseball parlance is called the “abuse innings” -- low-leverage situations in which a team is well ahead or behind -- was summoned into the bottom of the ninth of a tie game for only the second time all season.
The first time was May 5 in Texas, when he struck out the first two batters he faced but ultimately gave up a game-winning single to Adrian Beltre in a 4-3 Boston defeat.
Monday night did not begin in a promising fashion, as Mortensen missed badly with his first two pitches to Evan Longoria.
“I came in with a ball of energy,’’ he said. “I tried to throw two sliders, ended up in the guy’s face. Just one of those things: big game, tensions are high, just coming out trying to get some outs for us, keep us in the game.’’
Mortensen regained his equilibrium and ultimately struck out Longoria with perhaps as good a pitch as he has thrown all season, a changeup that fooled Longoria badly.
“I felt it was a pretty good changeup,’’ Mortensen said. “He put a pretty good glory swing on it, to try to end the game, and it kind of disappeared on him. Good to see to have the confidence in a pitch, throwing it, and having those swings and misses again.’’
Mortensen's place was taken on the roster Tuesday night by reliever Jose De La Torre, who is likely here on a one-day pass. De La Torre will give the bullpen some protection Tuesday, and then will likely head back to Pawtucket, with the Red Sox activating Alfredo Aceves to start against the Rays on Wednesday night.