Tanner Houck ‘feeling stronger and better than ever’ in return to Red Sox – Lowell Sun

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Jarren Duran isn’t the only player the Red Sox called from Worcester on Thursday. Tanner Houck is back, and the Red Sox plan to use the pitcher in a big way.

Houck, who missed time earlier this season with a sore flexor muscle, returned to make five rehab starts in Worcester and was ready to join the Red Sox in New York this weekend. The right-hander, who has been impressive in four career Major League starts, will be used out of the bullpen and in spot starts to begin the second half.

Cora said Houck will go back and forth between the bullpen ​​— where he’ll be used in a multi-inning role like Garrett Whitlock — and starting to help the rotation as they begin a stretch of 19 games in 19 days. Before Thursday’s game was postponed, Cora said Houck was scheduled to start next Wednesday against the Blue Jays.

“We really believe this is the right way of doing it,” Cora said. “We’re not trying to outsmart people here either. Our guys have been solid for X amount of games. We trust them. But adding this kid is going to make us better.”

Houck is ready for whatever role he’s asked for. He was stretched out to four innings in Worcester and he feels like he’s in a great spot physically in his return.

“I feel like I came back stronger,” Houck said. “It was a little hiccup in the road. I took the time, took advantage of it in the best way I could in terms of developing the strength side of things as well as the development of the pitching side. I had a little bit of downtime where in the bullpens coming back from it, I could really sit there and focus on individual things, kind of like last year with the alt site. It was like I said, just a little hiccup in the road, back now feeling stronger and better than ever. I’m excited to go back out there.”

After impressing in his first three career starts last season, Houck has a 1.17 ERA and 31 strikeouts in five career games after he made a spot start and bullpen appearance in April. But he was demoted back to Worcester when an injured Eduardo Rodriguez returned as the Red Sox looked to hone their star rookie’s development in Worcester.

Houck wasn’t frustrated. He took it all in stride and used his hunger for his next chance in the big leagues as motivation in his daily work.

“For me, I didn’t look at it as a demotion for performance or whatever,” Houck said. “I looked at it as another opportunity. All right, perfectly fine, I’ll go to Worcester. I have a great relationship with (pitching coach) Paul Abbott there, we’ve worked together in the past. It’s continuing to do what I’ve already kind of said, just showing up every day and just working for that next opportunity. …

“Whenever you’re going out there, you’re saying hey, tomorrow might be the day so why slack off today? It’s a big motivation to continue to work. On the field stats, I try to stay away from looking at them. For me, I would much rather just let my performance do the talking and not really focus on it and look at the numbers because that stuff is in the past. I can sit there and look at them and sit on those numbers and be comfortable or I can want to make them even better.”



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