Kelly ready for debut

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Red Sox pitching prospect Casey Kelly will make his debut today when he starts against Northeastern University.

Earlier this morning he was completely focused while sitting at his locker, almost like he was preparing for a regular season game.

“I bet you he’s nervous,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said this morning. “I bet he’s got some anxiety. I do think he’s handled himself really well. I walked by him yesterday, and someone mentioned to him about our signs, and I saw his eyes. There was a moment of panic. We can’t forget that he’s getting a lot thrown at him.”

Kelly, who the Red Sox drafted out of high school, would be a sophomore at the University of Tennessee he if elected to go to college instead of turning pro. He’ll throw only one inning against the Huskies today.

“As long as this kid is healthy, everything that gets thrown at him will be good,” said Francona. “It’ll be a learning experience.”

Francona has purposely stayed away from watching Kelly’s bullpen and live batting practice sessions. The manager doesn’t want to put any more pressure on Kelly than he’s already experiencing.

“I’m looking forward to watching this,” said Francona. “What you see today isn’t what you’re going to see a year and a half from now. He’s going to be stronger and more refined. When you look at him, he doesn’t look like a kid who just turned 20 and hasn’t pitched, which is part of the reason everybody likes him.”