Ojeda Set to Relieve Despite Daughter

Hartford Courant

Starting pitcher Bobby Ojeda asked his daughter, Janna Lee, 7, whether he should become a relief pitcher.

"Once every five days when I pitch during the season, I'm nervous and moody around the house," he told her.

"Now you're gonna be nervous and moody all the time. Forget it," Janna Lee replied.

"I think I'm going to have to buy a bigger house," said Ojeda, who took two days to consider Red Sox Manager John McNamara's request that he change roles for the good of the club.

Perhaps it is not so strange that Ojeda sought counsel with his daughter, recalling that former President Carter once asked his daughter, Amy, about her fears of nuclear war.

"I consider it a compliment and a challenge. I'm flattered," said Ojeda of the unexpected move. "Starting pitching is no piece of cake, either. But relief pitching will be an interesting challenge. I'm looking forward to it."

The Ojeda experiment was more or less an offer the talented Red Sox left-hander couldn't refuse.

"I appreciate that Mac and Fish (pitching coach Bill Fischer) asked me if I would, rather than telling me to. I like to think I'm a gamer (team player). If it will help us get a ring (win a pennant), I'm all for it," he said.

After searching both leagues for a left-handed reliever, the Red Sox decided to promote from within. Ojeda will join right-handers Bob Stanley and Mark Clear in short relief.

McNamara explained: "Bobby gets loose quick, has good control. He is not a situation pitcher, he has no problems with left-handed hitters. He's far better than anybody we could trade for, so why not him?"

McNamara made the same move with pitcher Tommy Hume in Cincinnati in 1979, the year the Reds won a division title.

"The only question is: Can he pitch two days in a row and be effective? Can he do it without hurting himself? We will put him in back-to-back games here," McNamara said.

If the Ojeda experiment works, the Sox will be able to challenge anybody in the AL East. "A bullpen puts you in the playoffs today," McNamara said.

"I don't look at this as an experiment," Ojeda said. "I'm going at it full bore. It's permanent as far as I'm concerned."

He has relieved on 10 occasions for the Red Sox, and he admits he has a lot to learn. He will make his first relief appearance this spring behind starter Roger Clemens today against the Dodgers.

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