Former Phillie Nick Pivetta loving life with the Red Sox

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Former Phillie Nick Pivetta loving life with the Red Sox originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

He won't pitch this weekend for the Red Sox, but Nick Pivetta is at Citizens Bank Park as a visiting player for the first time.

It's been only nine months since the Phillies traded him to Boston with pitching prospect Connor Seabold for relievers Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree.

The Phils have already lost that trade, regardless of what happens moving forward with Pivetta and Seabold. Workman and Hembree were disasters in a disastrous Phillies bullpen, allowing 24 runs, 11 homers and 56 baserunners in 22⅓ innings. They were almost impossibly bad as Phillies.

Pivetta, naturally, is off to a strong start with the 2021 Red Sox. He's made nine starts and is 5-0 with a 3.59 ERA. He's struck out 50 batters in 47⅔ innings and been taken deep just three times.

"The season's going really good," Pivetta said Friday during a media session with Philly reporters. "I think one of the biggest things with this team is that they know how to win, they know how to compete, they know how to stay in baseball games really, really well."

Pivetta wasn't criticizing the Phillies with that statement, but playing for a Red Sox team that's 28-18 is obviously much different than pitching for the 96-loss Phils in 2017 or three more Phillies clubs that struggled to hover around .500.

Pivetta did not develop as expected here. He wasn't the only Phillies pitcher of the Chris Young era whose growth was stunted by coaching methods they didn't feel comfortable with.

"I've learned a lot from my past and where I came from and been able to kinda step into my own and do my own thing here, so it's been really good so far," he said.

"I didn't throw very well at the end with Philly and I've been throwing well since. I've made the right adjustments that I've needed to make. It's a lot more fun and it's a lot easier when you're going out, competing in baseball games and everything's going right so you can focus on how to continue going right instead of fighting for your life.

"I didn't pitch good (in Philly). I wasn't comfortable. I was trying too hard. I was trying to be something I was not. I was good for a little bit, and then some things changed. I needed to pitch better. We made the adjustments here."

For those adjustments, Pivetta credited Red Sox pitching coach Dave Bush and game planning coordinator Jason Varitek, a popular figure in Boston. 

"I've learned how to pitch up (in the zone) better, to be honest with you," he said. "It's taken me a couple of years in a sense in that now I have more command of the strike zone up there. It's not something I was just able to do overnight, and obviously, I needed the proper guidance to learn how to do that."

There's a whole lot of season left, but so far, Pivetta and Cole Irvin have been pretty good for their new teams while things haven't gone according to plan at the back of the Phillies' rotation. Both have 3.59 ERAs. Irvin was traded to Oakland in a cash deal at the end of January to open up a 40-man roster spot, another trade that isn't looking great a few months later, even though Irvin hadn't inspired much confidence in Philly with a 6.75 ERA in 19 appearances.

Could it have happened here? Who knows. For Pivetta in particular, it was time for a change. The fanbase had soured on him, as had some Phillies talent evaluators.

"The change of scenery is always a thing," Pivetta said. "I never thought it would be a thing for me but it was. I think it was that and a combination of just believing in myself and being comfortable and knowing that I have a second chance."

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