Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era
'Stormers' Durbin gets deal with Sox
BY BURT WILSON, Sports Staff
J.D. Durbin has been losing sleep lately. Durbin's son, who was born in October, has been cutting into the pitcher's REM cycle by waking at 6 each morning.
But the right-hander is no longer losing shuteye over where he will play baseball this year -- he recently signed a contract with the Boston Red Sox.
"I'm excited," Durbin said from Gilbert, Ariz., his offseason home. "I think it's a good opportunity."
It was a welcome development for Durbin, who pitched the last two seasons with the Lancaster Barnstormers and had not pitched with an affiliated organization since 2009.
"They're no guarantees," Durbin said of the deal. "They think I can be a good fit as a Triple-A starter with big-league emergency/long-relief potential."
He will report to Boston's training facilities in Fort Myers, Fla., on Friday, 10 days before big-league pitchers show up.
"Personally, I think if I go down early and show them I can still do it, they might ask me (to attend major league spring training) while I'm there," he said. "But they're not extending a big-league invitation, yet."
Durbin is very familiar with Fort Myers, a place where he spent seven springs when he was in the Minnesota organization. Selected by the Twins in the second round of the 2000 draft, Durbin reached the majors with Minnesota in in 2004.
He pitched in a total of 23 major league games, the best coming in 2007 when he won five consecutive decisions, including a complete-game shutout for the Phillies.
Last season, he made 28 starts for the Barnstormers.
"He's a workhorse," 'Stormers skipper Butch Hobson said. "He gives me six, seven innings every time out."
Durbin was 14-9 with a 4.47 ERA for Lancaster. He also won two playoff games and led the league with six complete games.
After his season with the Barnstormers, he played winter ball for Santurce in Puerto Rico where he was 2-1 with a 1.88 ERA in six starts.
Red Sox scouts saw Durbin when he was pitching in Puerto Rico and offered him a contract when he was home over Christmas.
"I was throwing really good down there," he said, adding that he was hitting 89-94 mph on the radar gun.
Durbin has been "pitching to contact," allowing him to throw more innings. Combining spring training and the playoffs with the regular season in Lancaster and Puerto Rico, he accumulated 253 innings.
"I feel great," he said. "I'm throwing the ball pretty well. Walks are down. I'm not striking people out as I used to but I'm not even trying to strike people out."
The offer from the Red Sox came at a time when he was wondering if he would ever get another chance with an affiliated organization.
"I always work hard," said Durbin, who will be 31 on Feb. 24. "The prospect of someone taking notice keeps me working hard. I'd like to pitch as long as I can. I know baseball's not going to be around forever.
"But even if I'm an organizational guy, like an in-house mentor/coach making $8,000, $10,000 a month, that's worth it. Why wouldn't I hang on?
"If I'm 32, 33 years old in the Atlantic League making $2,000 a month, that's just not realistic with two kids. The bills would be more than what I'm making."
But now he has another chance. And having pitched in Yankee Stadium, Dodger Stadium and Wrigley Field, his goal is to add Fenway Park to the list.
"It would definitely be great to walk out on that field," he said, hoping to prove dreams can come true even if you're not getting sleep.