Nearly two weeks after signing a minor-league deal to return to the Red Sox, Hansel Robles could finally be joining the team in Fort Myers as soon as Thursday night.
Robles, 31, inked a minors pact with Boston that included an invite to major-league spring training on March 19. Due to visa issues, however, the right-handed reliever has yet to report to camp and has instead been stuck in the Dominican Republic.
When speaking with reporters (including MLB.com’s Ian Browne) at JetBlue Park on Wednesday, Sox manager Alex Cora indicated that Robles could make the club’s Opening Day roster by saying he “wouldn’t assume anything.”
The Red Sox originally acquired Robles from the Twins in exchange for pitching prospect Alex Scherff before last year’s trade deadline. After a shaky start, the Dominican-born righty settled in and became one of Cora’s most trusted options out of the bullpen.
From the time he made his Red Sox debut on August 1 through the end of the regular season, Robles led the team in relief appearances (27) while posting a 3.60 ERA and 3.37 FIP to go along with 33 strikeouts to 13 walks over 25 innings of work. He also produced a 5.06 ERA (6.73 FIP) in the postseason, though four of his six outings were scoreless.
Since he gained Cora’s trust so quickly last year, it would be interesting to see if Robles could earn a spot on Boston’s Opening Day roster. If Robles does indeed arrive at the Fenway South complex on Thursday night, he would have less than a full week to prepare for the Sox’ season opener against the Yankees in the Bronx on April 7.
That being said, Cora seems to be confident in Robles’ abilities. On top of that, the Red Sox — as noted by Browne — are lacking in right-handed bullpen depth as things stand now.
“We’ll see where he’s at,” Cora said of Robles. “One thing about him, he’s a workaholic. He gets here hopefully Thursday, and maybe you’ll see him [throw live] on Saturday. He’ll let us know where he’s at physically and stuff-wise.”
(Picture of Hansel Robles: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)