BOSTON, MA: Scott Atchison #48 of the Boston Red Sox pitches against the New York Yankees during the game at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Scott Atchison last pitched on July 13 against the Tampa Bay Rays, striking out one batter and allowing a run. He was placed on the disabled list shortly after thanks to forearm tightness. Atchison's being out at the same time the infield was a mess of injuries contributed to the six-man bullpen that was made into seven when Franklin Morales was bumped back, but it doesn't sound as if he'll be gone much longer.
On Monday, Atchison is going to throw long toss from flat ground, and manager Bobby Valentine thinks he'll be in Pawtucket pitching as soon as Friday, one day before he's eligible to return to Boston. Valentine says that this is to see, "how the ball comes out of his hand," as "He's throwing really well" already.
Atchison has been a revelation in the bullpen, picking up where he left off in the short-but-productive 2011. The right-hander has logged 46 innings in 37 games, posting a 1.76 ERA and 246 ERA+ thanks to nearly four times as many punch outs as free passes, and just two homers allowed. Reliever fielding-independent pitching (FIP) can be as odd as reliever ERA sometimes, but Atchison's is 2.74, which should at least give you an idea that he's been mostly as good as advertised.
Boston's bullpen hasn't necessarily missed him thanks to its depth, but a healthy Atchison around does make certain relievers in there more expendable, an important point given the trade deadline is just days after Atchison's expected return.