In addition to the moves they made earlier Tuesday, the Red Sox also recalled catcher Ronaldo Hernandez from Triple-A Worcester and placed left-hander Rich Hill on the bereavement list before taking on the Blue Jays at Fenway Park.
The move to call up Hernandez was expected and comes in the wake of fellow catchers Christian Vazquez and Kevin Plawecki being placed on the COVID-19 related injured list within the last two days.
When Boston placed Plawecki on the COVID IL on Monday morning, they recalled Connor Wong from Worcester. Wong will start behind the plate and catch Nathan Eovaldi in Tuesday night’s series opener against the Jays. Hernandez, meanwhile, will serve as the Sox’ second catcher.
The two backstops will likely split time behind the plate in the absence of Vazquez and Plawecki. Since both Vazquez and Plawecki tested positive for the virus, they could be out for the next 10 days. That said, Major League Baseball’s health and safety policy for 2022 dictates that players who test positive can return to action sooner if they clear certain protocols.
As for Hernandez, the Colombian-born catcher was originally acquired by the Red Sox from the Rays in the February 2021 trade that sent pitchers Chris Mazza and Jeffrey Springs to Tampa Bay. He came into the 2022 season regarded by Baseball America as the No. 27 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking first among backstops in the organization.
After spending the majority of the 2021 campaign with Double-A Portland, Hernandez earned a late-season promotion to Worcester and posted an .844 OPS in seven games with the affiliate.
Coming off an off-season in which he played six games in the Dominican Winter League, Hernandez broke camp this spring with the WooSox and has batted .143/.143/.214 with two doubles, four RBIs, and three runs scored across seven games spanning 28 plate appearances.
The 24-year-old right-handed hitter was already on Boston’s 40-man roster and is now in line to become the first member of the 2022 Red Sox to make their major-league debut as he takes Hill’s roster spot for the time being.
Hill — who was placed on the bereavement list — lost his father, Lloyd, at the age of 94 last week. The veteran left-hander made his second start of the season just three days after his father’s passing on Monday and is still slated to make his next scheduled start against the Rays in St. Petersburg on Saturday.
That being said, Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith) that he is not yet committing to Hill, who will be away from the team for the next few days while attending his father’s services in Milton.
(Picture of Ronaldo Hernandez: Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images)