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Saturday, August 31, 2013
In his first appearance at Salem Memorial Stadium, new Red Sox pitcher Brian Johnson got to witness two fireworks displays Friday night, only one of them scheduled.
Johnson, whose season had been marked by an absence of run support at Greenville, S.C., saw the first five Red Sox batters reach base and subsequently score in the first inning of an 8-2 Salem victory over the Frederick Keys.
"It was awesome," said Johnson, who had a 2.87 ERA in 15 starts at Greenville but was saddled with a 1-6 record. "You always love the run support."
Johnson, selected by Boston in the first round of the 2012 draft, had a no-decision in his first start for Salem last week on the road at Carolina. The move to Salem was his fourth of the season, including a rehab stint in the Gulf Coast League.
Johnson, a 6-foot-3, 225-pound left-hander, missed more than a month with shoulder tendinitis but could be a factor in Salem's playoff run. The Red Sox clinched the second-half Carolina League championship Thursday in a 10-1 romp over Frederick and now have won 22 of their past 30 games.
"I'd be surprised if he's not in the [playoff] rotation," Salem manager Billy McMillon said.
Johnson also was a position player at the University of Florida, where he was recognized with the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award in 2012. As long as he's with an American League franchise, there's no need to hone his batting skills.
"I mostly miss it when we're taking [batting practice] and I'm shagging balls," said Johnson, who is not allowed to take BP, "but I really enjoy pitching and focusing on that."
BOYS OF AUGUST: A three-run blast by third baseman Stefan Welch was his sixth home run of the month and a two-run homer by first baseman David Chester, promoted from Greenville on July 24, was his fifth in August.
Welch has hit 10 homers since he was acquired by the Red Sox on June 6 in what was described as a trade with Pittsburgh, although Welch said he still doesn't know who or what the Pirates received in return.
"I thought they were calling me to tell me I'd been released," said Welch, who was hitting .147 for the Pirates Class AA affiliate in Altoona, Pa. "It was sort of a sigh of relief to know I'd been traded. I was having a pretty miserable year."
Welch was 16 when he was signed by the New York Mets out of high school in the Australian city of Adelaide. The Pirates signed him as a free agent when his original contract with the Mets expired.
Australian baseball has been in the news of late after an Aug. 20 shooting in Oklahoma City that took the life of Christopher Lane, an American college player from Australia.
"I didn't know him personally," Welch said. "I knew a lot of people who knew him. It's such a tragic thing. It's [the Australian baseball community] so small that everyone knows everyone. It was such a shock ... so terrible."
COMING UP: Salem will send out right-hander Heri Quevedo (6-5, 4.35 ERA) to face Lynchburg's Navery Moore (7-7, 6.38) today at 2:05 p.m. at Memorial Stadium.
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