The Red Sox accomplished two things by placing infielder Adalberto Mondesi on the 60-day injured list prior to Thursday’s Opening Day date with the Orioles at Fenway Park.
First, they created the opening they needed in order to add outfielder Raimel Tapia to the 40-man roster. Secondly, they ensured that Mondesi, who is rehabbing from a left ACL tear he suffered 11 months ago, will not be eligible to return to the Red Sox until May 29 at the earliest.
Boston acquired Mondesi from the Royals in exchange for left-handed reliever Josh Taylor back in January. At that time, the club was aware that the speedy 27-year-old may not be ready in time for Opening Day. What they did not expect, however, is that he would miss the first two months of the 2023 season.
When speaking with reporters (including MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo) earlier Thursday, Red Sox manager Alex Cora acknowledged that while Mondesi has not suffered any setbacks in his rehab, he is progressing more slowly than anticipated.
“No setbacks but he didn’t take a leap forward in our last testing,” Cora said. “He’s still off but it feels like this is the right move just to make sure everything goes well.”
Mondesi tore his left ACL on April 26 last year and underwent season-ending surgery in May. When he was traded from the Royals to the Red Sox, he immediately flew from the Dominican Republic to Fort Myers, Fla. to get acquainted with Boston’s training staff.
Now, while the Red Sox are in Boston, Mondesi will remain in Fort Myers to continue working with team trainers at the Fenway South complex. As noted by Cotillo, Mondesi began hitting and taking grounders outside in early March but never progressed to the point where he could get into games before camp came to a close. The current plan is for him to take part in extended spring training before ultimately heading out on a rehab assignment at a later date.
“With us gone from Fort Myers, maybe that’s going to help him,” suggested Cora. “More attention to him, though there was a lot of attention to him. The focus will be on [him] and not seeing everything that’s going on.”
Mondesi, who turns 28 in July, is under contract through the end of the season and will then be eligible for free agency for the first time in his career. When healthy, the 6-foot-1, 200-pounder has proven to be one of the more dynamic players in the game thanks to his standout speed.
For his big-league career, Mondesi is 133-for-159 on stolen base attempts. He stole 32 bases in 2018, 43 in 2019, and an American League-leading 24 during the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign. From 2016-2022, he registered a nearly-elite average sprint speed of 29.8 feet per second, per Baseball Savant.
That speed, according to the Cora, is why Mondesi is not being rushed back. The Red Sox instead want Mondesi at his best when he does return so he can bring a new element to the club’s middle infield mix.
“We feel good about where he’s at,” Cora said. “We want this guy to be the explosive guy that he was a few years ago. If he’s 80 or 85 percent, he’s still a good player, but not the one that’s explosive playing defense, running the bases. We want the closest version of Mondesi.”
(Picture of Adalberto Mondesi: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)