Though he’s entering a contract year, Drew Pomeranz’s peace of mind has never been greater.
The lefty is coming off his best season in the big leagues, 17-6 with a 3.32 ERA. He knows what he’s capable of, and when the time comes, he’s confident he’ll be compensated accordingly.
Though the Red Sox haven’t reached out with any extension talks, Pomeranz will certainly listen if they do.
“I like it here,” Pomeranz told CNHI Sports Boston. “I like this team. I like these guys. It’s probably the best group of guys I’ve ever been around. I love it here and my wife likes it here. I love the group. But they haven’t said anything to me so I’m just focused on getting better and picking up where I left off. Let all that take care of itself.”
This time last spring, Pomeranz had far more than free agency on his mind.
The lefty had an experimental stem-cell injection in his elbow prior to 2017 and looked anything but an All-Star early in the season. Frustration that had been building boiled over in May, when he was yanked after four innings against the Athletics and got in a screaming match with former manager John Farrell.
After failing to make it to the fifth inning in three straight starts, it was fair to wonder what Pomeranz had left in the tank.
A lot, apparently. He went 14-3 with a 2.85 ERA the rest of the way.
This year in Fort Myers, Pomeranz has been asked to build off of the best season of his career. He’ll tell you that it’s familiar territory.
“I’ve had a good year, my best year, and then my best year again. Kind of topping it every year,” Pomeranz said. “It’s not so much taking from just one year, it’s taking from all of them. Just try and keep progressing in that direction. At the end of the year I was pretty much throwing everything (for strikes), all my pitches. I’m trying to pick up where I left off because I can actually do that this year.”
With a healthy arm and a normal offseason, Pomeranz has more freedom. He can focus on fine-tuning the little things instead of worrying about the bigger ones.
“Last year I came in and I didn’t even throw a bullpen until I got here,” Pomeranz said. “I couldn’t really work on everything. I was kind of fighting to get ready for Opening Day instead of... being able to work on stuff. It’s nice to be able to do this year.”
So after an All-Star caliber 2017, how will Pomeranz gauge his success?
“It doesn’t necessarily have to be, just because I won 17 games that I need to win more games. It’s more just picking up that I pitched better. I pitched better,” Pomeranz repeated. “I think I was a smarter pitcher, more of a pitcher than a just thrower like I’ve been in years past. I think it’s just picking it up from there.
“Experience has a lot to do with it. I’ve been in so many different places, so many different teams in my career,” Pomeranz continued. “You just try to pick up as much information as you can and you try to use it all every year. I guess you get a little wiser every year because you learn things, it’s about retaining those things I guess.”
As for those future plans, Pomeranz contends the free agent freeze hasn’t changed how he’ll do things moving forward.
“I don’t know what’s going on, to be honest. I don’t really understand which side is the problem,” Pomeranz said. “I don’t know. Like I said, I’m trying to keep it as simple as I can right now. If I don’t take care of my stuff then it doesn’t really matter.”
Chris Mason is a Red Sox beat writer for CNHI Sports Boston. Email him at email@example.com, and follow him on Twitter at @ByChrisMason.