Five Questions For Zack Kelly: Boston Red Sox Pitcher

Printed from:

With injuries behind him, Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Zack Kelly looks to pick up where he left off in the big leagues.

Kelly, 29, cracked the Red Sox Opening Day roster last year but missed much of the 2023 season due to a right elbow injury. He returned to the big league club in late September.

Kelly then had a left oblique injury in spring training this year that hindered his ability to compete for an Opening Day roster spot. He instead started the year with the Worcester Red Sox, the Triple-A minor league affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. However, the Red Sox called him up from Worcester on Wednesday, April 24.

While Kelly is back up with the big league club now, NewBostonPost did a Five Questions interview with him at Polar Park in Worcester when he was with the Triple-A club.

The interview is below:


1. You started throwing a pitch called a sweeper this year — something a lot of pitchers have started doing in recent years. It’s a slower version of a slider that breaks about 15 inches as opposed to the traditional six inches. Why do you think this pitch has caught on so much?

I think it’s just a different look. It’s a different look than your traditional slider and there’s less of an emphasis on fastballs now, so the more you can make the ball move, the harder it is to hit. So I think guys are getting more analytically knowledgeable and trying to throw a lot more breaking stuff than they have in years past.


2.  You’ve pitched at Fenway Park. What’s something about it a lot of people don’t realize?

I think the people here understand how special the place is and people around baseball know how special it is. I think that’s why you have a lot of free agents that want to come here and a lot of the visiting players enjoy coming here because it’s such a historic venue. It’s kind of the same for Wrigley Field and other historic venues, too. I think Fenway has a feeling about it that’s just different.


3. You made it into professional baseball after signing as an undrafted free agent out of Division II Newberry College in South Carolina. The Oakland Athletics signed you in 2017 and gave you a $500 signing bonus. What did you use that bonus on? 

[Laughs] Applebee’s two-for-20. I had to pay $300 of the $323 of it after taxes in apartment rent, so I only had $23 to work with. 


4.  Many minor leaguers, particularly in the lower minors, work another job during the offseason to make ends meet. Did you ever do that and, if so, what type of work did you do?

I’ve done some lessons here and there in the past. Other than that, not really. I try to keep to baseball. I don’t really know much about anything else.  [Laughs]


5. You struck out Aaron Judge on September 14, 2022, during the season he hit 62 home runs — more home runs than Babe Ruth and Roger Maris ever hit in a single season in pinstripes. In fact, it’s the most for someone who hasn’t been caught using steroids. What’s it like facing a 6-foot-7, 280-pound giant like that in the batter’s box?

It honestly makes the strike zone feel a lot bigger. Once a guy gets in the box, you just gotta compete. If I remember about that outing, I was a little frustrated because I had given up a run or two a batter or two before. There were runners on, so I was just trying to limit the damage and luckily, I got him to strike out, and get out of the inning.


6. When did you realize you could make it to the big leagues?

Not so much make it to the big leagues, but in college, my senior year I started throwing a little bit harder. In Division II baseball, you don’t really see a lot of guys throwing 90 miles per hour. You might now, with how everything is going, but in 2016-2017, you really didn’t, and so I started hitting 92-93 and got up to 95 in my senior year of college, so at that point, I felt like I had a chance. And when I have a chance, I feel confident in myself.


New to NewBostonPost? Conservative media is hard to find in Massachusetts. But you’ve found it. Now dip your toe in the water for two bucks — $2 for two months. And join the real revolution.