Christian Arroyo’s professional debut at first base was a short-lived one that, quite simply, did not go as planned.
Making his first-ever major-league start at first base for the Red Sox in Sunday’s contest against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium, Arroyo grounded out to first base in his first at-bat of the night in the top half of the third inning before suffering a painful looking left hamstring injury in the bottom half.
With one out and runners at the corners, Sox starter Martin Perez induced a sharply-hit groundball off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton that was fielded by shortstop Xander Bogaerts.
After receiving the relay from Bogaerts, second baseman Kiké Hernández made a quick throw towards first base in an attempt to complete the potential inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.
Arroyo, who was presumably trying to record the second out of the twin killing at first before the runner at third — Greg Allen — crossed home plate, wound up stretching out with his left leg to the point where he landed on the ground while doing a split.
Stanton ended up beating the throw, but Arroyo was in clear discomfort as he gripped at his left hamstring while seated near the first base bag.
Upon getting back on his feet, a hobbled Arroyo was replaced at first base by Bobby Dalbec and was later diagnosed with a left hamstring strain.
The 26-year-old is likely headed for the injured list for a third time this season, Red Sox manager Alex Cora said following Sunday night’s 9-1 loss to the Yankees.
“It’s most likely an IL thing,” said Cora. “He just felt it when he stretched. It’s a hard one, right? He was ready, of course, to play first, but he stretches and that happens. It’s a tough one for us, but we’ll be bounce back.”
Danny Santana, who has been out of action since July 6 on the injured list with a left quad strain since July 9, is expected to join the Red Sox in Buffalo on Monday ahead of their series against the Blue Jays after completing a rehab assignment with Triple-A Worcester.
The switch-hitting Santana, who went 0-for-4 with two walks and a run scored in his most recent stint with the WooSox, has appeared in 12 games at first base for Boston so far this season, so the veteran utility man could be an option to fill in there while Arroyo is sidelined.
For Arroyo, this latest setback is just the latest reminder in how snake-bitten the infielder has been in his first full season with the Red Sox.
Finally able to establish himself as a legitimate everyday player, Arroyo is on the verge of hitting the IL for a third time in 2021 after previously missing time with a left hand and right knee contusion.
Since most-recently being activated off the injured list on July 5, the former first-round pick posted a .310/.355/.621 slash line with two home runs, four runs scored, and six RBI over his last eight games coming into play on Sunday.
That stretch of success was happening concurrently with the Red Sox calling up top outfield prospect Jarren Duran from Worcester, which resulted in Hernández shifting from center field to second base — the position Arroyo had played so well at.
In search to get Arroyo consistent playing time after promoting Duran, the Sox opted to try the right-handed hitter out at first base, with Cora even saying that “he deserves to play” with the way he has been swinging the bat as of late.
So, how frustrating is it when a player such as Arroyo, who has proven to be a key contributor when healthy, suffers an injury when he is seemingly on the verge of going on a tear?
“It’s frustrating, right?” said Cora. “Because, it seems like he’s in a groove, he’s swinging the bat well, and then this happens. We don’t like our guys to get hurt. This is one of the things, too, that — and [head athletic trainer Brad Pearson] always talks about it — it’s not only in his case. When you don’t play that much and all the sudden you start playing a lot, and you start getting on base at a high rate, and you’re running the bases more than usual, stuff like this happens.
“And we try to avoid it,” Cora added. “We put them in running programs when they’re not playing everyday just to avoid stuff like this. But, it’s too bad that it happens. And we’ll keep working, we’ll keep trying to improve, because that’s something that actually makes a lot of sense. You go from not playing to all the sudden playing 10 days in a row or eight out of 10, and your body’s not used to it.
“I’m not saying this is the case for Christian, but, overall, that’s one of the things that we’ve been studying and talking about. And we’ll try to get it right, I guess, that’s what I’m trying to say. So, we’ll keep working like I said and keep getting better.”
If Arroyo were to be placed on the 10-day injured list on Monday, the soonest he could be activated would be next Thursday, July 29.
(Picture of Christian Arroyo: Rich Schultz/Getty Images)