Last winter, though, Albers paid more attention to his nutrition upon returning to his offseason home in Houston. He reported to Orioles camp at a listed weight of 205 pounds.
The result: He shaved one run off his ERA and stayed in the majors all season. And although the Orioles still opted not to tender him a contract in December, he wasn’t a free agent for very long, signing a one-year, $875,000 deal with the Red Sox a few weeks later.
Albers, 28, is vying for one of the final spots in the bullpen, and he has notched a 1.80 ERA with 11 strikeouts in 10 innings over seven appearances.
“His fastball’s got a lot of life,” manager Terry Francona said. “You’re going to see a lot of ground balls.’’
Herald | Matt Albers shapes up
Sometimes you'll see fat pitchers make excuses (hi, David Wells!), or say that that's just how they're built. Or that it doesn't matter. As with even the most unathletic sports (it's been said even about golf and Nascar), being in shape helps, so it's good to see that Albers has maintained his fitness level over the last year.
Albers seems promising to me. Nothing special, but an improved year last year, and going from the Orioles to the Sox can offer a spike to the right kind of player. He's gotta get his WHIP down (if you're close to 1.50, I don't really want you on my team), but I have optimism for him the same way you do for any new player in the 'pen.
Really, we know what Scott Atchison is -- a useful last guy in the bullpen who can eat innings and be something close to average. We know what Hideki Okajima is -- pretty bad at this stage (but thanks for the great '07, Oki!). We've seen this spring what Andrew Miller is -- a reclamation project. None of the other guys stand out either. In my mind, Albers has every bit the right to one of the roster spots that any of these guys do.
Herald | Jon Lester, David Ortiz seeking better starts in '11 | Sox swim in deep end | Sox' hand tops Phils' aces | Jed Lowrie savors big shot at Doc | Globe | Pedroia t-shirts will help charities | Lester praises Halladay | Gonzalez's agent Boggs wades right in | ESPNBoston | Halladay-Lester a study in pitching mastery