With Opening Day on Thursday and an unfortunate number of Red Sox players currently on the DL, there are some new faces on the roster who we’ll be seeing sooner than expected. The pitching rotation will see two new additions, lefty Bobby Poynter and righty Marcus Walden.
Marcus Walden has had a long, strange trip to the Sox clubhouse, and his colored, adverse past is the kind of underdog story that I like to feature. Players like Walden are like 2003-era David Ortiz: they have something to prove and they’re hungry. It also means he’s used to things not going his way or coming easily, which means he’s hopefully tough enough to withstand the craziness of playing in Boston. Great baseball teams – championship teams – are made of players like him.
Here’s what you need to know about the newest arm in the Red Sox bullpen:
He’s Had Shoulder Problems
Hard to believe that 2009 was almost a decade ago, but back then, Walden was missing most of the season and the entire 2010 season with shoulder injuries that required multiple surgeries, including Tommy John.
He Almost Quit Baseball in 2015
Walden told MassLive this week that when he played independent ball a few years ago, he offered to quit, but his wife wouldn’t let him give up on his dreams.
He’s Never Appeared in a Major League Game
The 29-year-old Walden has been passed around the Majors, but never actually pitched for a team beyond the Minor League level. The Blue Jays selected him in the 2007 draft and finally promoted him in 2015, but then optioned him back down to the minors without using him in a game. He was also part of the Oakland, Cincinnati, and Twins organizations, as well as the independent Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. He spent all of 2017 in Red Sox Triple-A Pawtucket, posting a 3.92 ERA over 105.2 innings in 29 games, 15 of them starts.
His Sox Spring was Strong
In 13 innings of Grapefruit League play, Walden posted a .69 ERA, .77 WHIP, and had 15 strikeouts.
Welcome to the team, Marcus!