- Gordon Edes, ESPN Staff Writer
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BALTIMORE -- Manny Delcarmen pitched in more games for the Boston Red Sox than any Massachusetts native who ever wore the uniform and is one of only two Bay Staters to pitch in a World Series won by the Sox.
But on Monday, after a decade spent in his hometown organization, the 28-year-old reliever was traded to the Colorado Rockies for a 21-year-old pitching prospect with impressive credentials, Chris Balcom-Miller.
The days of friends and family, including his father, former minor league pitcher Manuel "Kuki" Delcarmen, making the short ride from the Hyde Park neighborhood in which Delcarmen grew up to see him pitch in Fenway Park have come to an end.
Delcarmen, whose role was reduced to pitching in what Sox general manager Theo Epstein described as "low-leverage situations" -- i.e., with the Sox either behind, or ahead by a lot -- was deemed expendable.
Delcarmen was a second-round draft choice in 2000, signed to a $700,000 bonus by scout Ray Fagnant after a senior year at West Roxbury High in which he struck out 109 batters in 53 innings and had an 0.40 ERA.
"Signing with Boston is what I had hoped to do ever since I was a little kid,'' Delcarmen said at the time. "To have that happen was a great feeling, a dream come true."
Delcarmen appeared in 289 games, all in relief, for the Sox, 35 more than Medford native Bill Monbouquette, who started 228 of the 254 games in which he pitched for the Sox from 1958 to 1965.
He leaves with a 3-2 record and 4.70 ERA in 48 appearances this season, his highest ERA since he had a 5.06 ERA as a rookie in 2006. He also was averaging a career-low 6.5 strikeouts and a career-high 5.7 walks per nine innings.
"Manny had a nice career with us,'' said Epstein, who was in Baltimore and discussed the trade before Tuesday night's game with the Orioles. "I think there were times when he had it all working, a mid-90s fastball with good finish in the zone, a plus changeup that's his bread and butter, and at times a really good curveball.
"That kind of almost teased everyone into thinking, 'Hey, this guy might be able to put it together and pitch at the very end of the game,' because at times he'd go out there with closer's stuff. So I think judging him against that standard is difficult, because I don't think he's necessarily that guy. But he's been a contributor in middle relief for us.
"When he's been less effective, he hasn't been able to maintain tremendous consistency for us. There were some mechanical flaws that would lead him to lose the feel for his curveball and lose command of his fastball, so he'd become more of a changeup guy.
"To be a candidate to pitch later in the game, he needs those three solid pitches and it's been a struggle for him to maintain all those.''
Delcarmen's peak seasons with the Sox were 2007 and 2008. He had a career-best 2.05 ERA in 44 appearances in '07, holding opponents to a .183 average, and appeared in 11 of Boston's postseason games, including two appearances during a four-game sweep of the Rockies in the World Series.
In 2008, Delcarmen made a career-high 73 appearances, holding left-handed hitters to a .190 average with no home runs in 126 at-bats.
But last season he had a miserable second half (7.27 ERA) admitting on the last weekend of the season his elbow was bothering him (he had Tommy John ligament replacement surgery in 2003). Delcarmen also went on the DL this season with a strained forearm.
Balcom-Miller is 21-year-old right-hander from northern California who the Sox nearly drafted last year, Epstein said. "We probably left him on the board too long,'' Epstein said of Balcom-Miller, who was taken by Colorado in the sixth round.
The Pioneer League pitcher of the year in his pro debut last season, Miller was 6-7 with a 3.31 ERA, 117 strikeouts and 19 walks in 19 starts for the Rockies' Asheville affiliate in the Class A South Atlantic League this season. He ranks seventh in the league in ERA and is among the leaders in strikeouts per nine innings (first, 9.69), opponents batting average (second, .214), fewest walks per nine innings (second, 1.57) and fewest base runners per nine innings (second, 9.77).
"He has a good fastball with sink, and a plus changeup as an amateur,'' Epstein said. "We just saw him again this year and he now has a plus slider. He has the potential to have three average to above [average] pitches. He's a guy who keeps the ball on the ground, is a plus strike thrower and gets swings and misses.''
The Sox assigned him to their own Sally League affiliate, Greenville.
The other Massachusetts native to pitch in a World Series won by the Red Sox? Brockton's Buck O'Brien, who took the loss in the two games he started in the 1912 Series.
Gordon Edes is ESPNBoston.com's Red Sox reporter. He has covered the Red Sox for 12 years and has reported on baseball for 25 years. Ask a question for his next mailbag here.
1dKevin Van Valkenburg