ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Red Sox have their reasons to activate Heath Hembree with just one week left in the regular season, and so does the pitcher himself.
For the Red Sox, they want to get another look at the reliever, who had been on the injured list with right lateral elbow inflammation since Aug. 2. The whole idea is to make sure Hembree can start the process of hitting the ground running when next spring training rolls around.
The righty's reasoning? It's a bit more sentimental.
"You don’t want to take playing Major League Baseball for granted," he said. I wanted to be healthy and come back and finish the season out with my teammates. I mean, they’ve been grinding every day and I’ve been kind of sitting on my ass for the last month and a half. So I kind of want to come back and finish it out with my boys for a little bit."
Hembree insists this is different than the previous time he reemerged from the injured list in early July. That month-long stint did not go well, with the reliever showing few signs of the pitcher who had dominated for much of the season's first few months (having totaled a 2.88 ERA when June 1 rolled around).
"That other time I still felt it," admitted Hembree. "The other time I was could throw a ball so I’ll make it work. I wasn’t really at the level I wanted it to be. But this time I feel good, so we’ll see how it goes.
"I feel really confident. I feel the injection did its job. The process this time we kind of took our time and checked off the boxes and making sure we took the right steps and everything was good day-to-day. As of now I feel good and feel like my normal self."