It's that time of year when teams start gaming the rulebook to expand the number of players eligible for playoff rosters.
Unfortunately, that has nothing to do with why Jake Petricka was suddenly called up on Saturday.
No, Ramon Troncoso was hospitalized with pericarditis (the swelling of the lining of the heart), after showing up to the park on Friday experiencing chest pains, which is one of the more frightening ways to end up on the disabled list.
Petricka didn't really need the break, because he was in line for a September promotion anyway. This merely pushes the timetable ahead by two weeks, and allows the Minnesota native a chance to make his debut in front of friends and family.
Petricka seems like he's been around for longer than he has, mostly because he was taken in the second round of the 2010 draft -- one round behind Chris Sale, who made his debut in .... 2010, and one round before Addison Reed. By comparison, the regular four-year course looks like the slow boat.
It also hasn't been the easiest ride for Petricka, a hard-throwing righty out of Indiana State who hit a wall between High-A and Double-A as a starter. His numbers tell the complicated journey:
The Sox finally gave up on the starting experiment this season, but it's not necessarily a failure. Petricka came out of college with a high-90s fastball, but he hadn't ironed out either of his secondary offerings. That's the kind of guy who is drafted because he could turn into a quality late-inning reliever, even if he can never sustain a delivery over six innings on a reliable basis.
Sure enough, his stuff has played up much better in relief. Hitters are swinging and missing far more often (especially on strikes in the zone), his walk rate has dropped even with inconsistent command, and he's still keeping the ball in the park. He still could use some refinement, and a return to Charlotte next season is quite possible, but the last six weeks of the season should give everybody an idea involved an idea of how close he is.
On the other hand, if Petricka follows the comparison Robin Ventura drew, perhaps he'll stick against considerable odds:
Ventura compared Petricka, 25, to Sox reliever Nate Jones a couple of years ago.
"Working his way through, you know he throws hard and it’s more about location right now and being able to pitch," Ventura said. "We did it a lot last year where we just bring guys up and throw him in there. The way our games are, you know he’s going to get used.