BOSTON -- If last year’s spring training proved anything for the Red Sox, it’s that pitcher Rubby De La Rosa can bring it.
Following Tommy John surgery in 2011 that limited him to one major league appearance with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012 before returning to the minors and being traded to Boston, De La Rosa wowed spectators last spring, easily hitting triple digits with his fastball and featuring a changeup taught to him by Red Sox legend Pedro Martinez.
However, De La Rosa still wasn’t fully healthy in 2013. The Red Sox optioned him to Triple-A Pawtucket, where his pitch count as a starter remained limited up until being called up to Boston as a reliever and posting little success in 11 appearances (0-2, 5.56 ERA).
Now, five weeks away from this year’s spring training, De La Rosa is fully healthy and ready to once again catch everybody’s attention.
“I finally feel 100 percent good, mentally [and] physically,” De La Rosa said. “I’m excited, can’t wait for the season to start.”
In Boston for the Jimmy Fund’s annual New Stars for Young Stars event, De La Rosa spoke of his expectations for next season, one that could stand as a make-or-break year for the 24-year-old former top prospect.
“Last year, I didn’t have that feeling like I can throw the ball at 100 percent,” De La Rosa said. “Now I can do it, now I feel comfortable.”
Perhaps the comfort stems from another year working with his mentor Martinez. The two have worked together in the Dominican Republic, where De La Rosa has been pitching for the Tigres del Licey of the Dominican Winter League.
Although he hasn’t been told if the organization plans to use him as a starter or reliever this year, De La Rosa said he will be excited to contribute either way.
“Whatever the team wants, if they need me in the bullpen or if they need me as a starter I’m fine with that,” De La Rosa said. “I’d like to be a starter [but] I’ll go to the bullpen happy.”