First Wave of Red Sox Players Report to Fenway Park for Start of Summer Camp

The first wave of Red Sox players and staff reported to Fenway Park earlier Wednesday afternoon for the start of Summer Camp.

Based off photos taken by team photographer Billie Weiss, it appears that Mitch Moreland, Jackie Bradley Jr., Alex Verdugo, Michael Chavis, Christian Vazquez, Chris Mazza, Heath Hembree, Matt Barnes, Tzu-Wei Lin, Brian Johnson, Marcus Walden, Colten Brewer, Ryan Brasier, Martin Perez, Jonathan Arauz, Kevin Plawecki, and Kevin Pillar were among this initial group of players.

Other players, such as Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, and J.D. Martinez, are likely traveling to Boston as we speak and will presumably check in at Fenway Park on Thursday.

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As noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, players and staff who check in over the next two days will be subject to individual COVID-19 screening sessions that have been organized by an independent collection service.

Per Cotillo, “Once players arrive, they will be subjected to a three-part collection process that includes:

  • A temperature check with contactless thermometer
  • A body fluid sample (saliva or oral/nasal swab) for diagnostic/PCR testing (this is the normal nose-swab COVID-19 test)
  • A venous blood collection or dried blood spot sample for serology/antibody testing”

Once completed and processed, test samples will be sent to the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory in Salt Lake City, Utah. In the mean time, players and staff will have to self-quarantine from anywhere between 24-48 hours while the Red Sox and Major League Baseball await the results.

If an individual’s test results come back negative, they can report to Fenway for workouts later this week, but if someone tests positive for COVID-19, they will have to self-isolate for up to two weeks and test negative twice before being able to rejoin the team again.

That being said, there won’t be much going on in terms of baseball activities at Fenway Park until Friday, when pitchers and catchers are set to report and begin their workouts for the 2020 season.

Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke said Monday that despite players having some concerns about the coronavirus, he expects “everybody to come in.”

The 2020 season, which will consist of just 60 games for teams, is scheduled to begin on July 23rd. It’s not known at this point who exactly the Red Sox will be playing on Opening Day.

2020 Minor League Baseball Season Cancelled Due to COVID-19 Pandemic

This news does not come as a surprise, but the 2020 Minor League Baseball season has been cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. MiLB released a statement addressing the matter earlier Tuesday evening.

 

Per league president and CEO Pat O’Connor, “This announcement removes the uncertainty surrounding the 2020 season and allows our teams to begin planning for an exciting 2021 season of affordable family entertainment.”

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, heavy financial constraints were placed on minor-league clubs across the country due to the fact their primary source of revenue comes from ticket sales.

Unlike their parent major-league clubs, minor-league affiliates do not have lucrative television or other media contracts to rely on in the absence of ticket sales and other gameday revenue, so getting through an entire season with teams playing in empty or nearly empty ballparks would have been virtually impossible.

Back in May, the Red Sox committed to paying their non-40-man-roster minor-leaguers $400 per week through the end of August, or what would have been the end of the minor-league season.

Without a minor-league season, it has been reported by Baseball America that some teams will allow their minor-leaguers to pursue opportunities in independent league baseball.

It is also worth mentioning that the Red Sox’ Triple-A affiliate, the Pawtucket Red Sox, were supposed to play their final season at McCoy Stadium this year before relocating to Worcester.

With Polar Park making progress towards its completion before the start of the 2021 minor-league season, it would seem as though the PawSox have already played their last game at McCoy, which they have called home since 1969.

On another note, the short-season affiliate of the Red Sox, the Lowell Spinners, probably won’t be affiliated with the Red Sox for that much longer, as the entire infrastructure of minor-league baseball appears to be headed towards rapid turnover. That much was made evident by this year’s amateur draft, which consisted of only five rounds to make it the shortest in MLB’s history to this point in time.

Minor-league baseball is an important aspect of the game for developing players and young fans alike. Despite that notion, the landscape of MiLB will probably never be the same beginning in 2021 if those aforementioned changed do take place.

Although They Were Not Named to Initial Training Camp Pool, Expect Top Red Sox Prospects to Join Team in Boston

When the Red Sox announced their initial roster pool for the resumption of major-league spring training, or ‘Summer Camp,’ on Sunday, many were surprised that no top prospects outside of Bobby Dalbec made the cut.

Instead, 47 players were added to Boston’s initial pool, meaning there are still up to 13 open slots that can be filled.

Out of the 47 players already on the list, 37 are on the Sox’ 40-man roster, while 10 are non-roster invitees.

Veteran backstop Jonathan Lucroy was not included in the initial pool of players, but he is expected to report to training camp at Fenway Park this week once some procedural things with his contract are finalized.

So, if you account for Lucroy, the Red Sox, led by chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co., still have 12 available spots to play with if they so choose.

Many clubs across baseball have already invited their most touted prospects to their respective training camps, with some even including their first-round picks from this year’s draft.

According to Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke, it’s not out of the realm of possibilities for the Sox to go down this avenue of roster construction in the coming weeks. That all depends how many players in the initial pool test positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday.

“We had a lot of conversations about this and the right way to do it,” Roenicke told reporters via a Zoom call earlier Monday. “Do you bring in some of your top prospects that you really don’t want to miss a season? And then you talk about, ‘Well, what happens if we get five or six guys that all of a sudden come in and test positive for the virus? So how do we best fill these 60 spots with what will help us not only this year but next year also?”

Added the former Brewers manager: “We think the testing part is critical to this. If we all get through this testing part clean, and we don’t have some cases or at least not many (positive tests), then they feel like they can proceed with how we’re going to go with the next spots that are open on that 60 list. And I thought it was a really smart way to do this. And I know there’s a couple guys that I talked about, that I got to see in spring training that I thought, these are great looking players. They’re not ready for our team yet but those are guys that I really would like to play and get experience this year so they’re not set back for next year and we don’t lose them for really a year.”

With those potential 12 spots to play with, the Red Sox could add touted prospects such as Jeter Downs, Triston Casas, Bryan Mata, Jarren Duran, Marcus Wilson, Tanner Houck, Durbin Feltman and Thad Ward to their training camp pool.

Personally, after what he did in the spring, I believe Duran more than likely deserves one of those spots.

Going back to that part about clubs adding their 2020 first-round draft choices, could it be possible that the Sox include Nick Yorke, or maybe even third-rounder Blaze Jordan in their training camp pool if the two are able to sign with the team relatively soon? That would be quite the experience for two kids fresh out of high school, I would have to think.

Red Sox Manager Ron Roenicke on Nathan Eovaldi: ‘He Probably Would Be Ready for a Season in a Week’

Before MLB spring training was suspended in mid-March due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi was putting together an impressive string of exhibition outings leading into what would have been his second full season in Boston.

Over three starts spanning 12 innings of work, the 30-year-old hurler had yet to surrender a run while scattering just four hits and one walk to go along with 12 strikeouts against 29 total batters faced.

It was just Grapefruit League play, sure, but in the midst of Chris Sale undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery and David Price being dealt to the Dodgers, a resurgent Eovaldi would have been a welcome sight for a Red Sox pitching staff with plenty of holes.

Five days after his start against the Blue Jays in Fort Myers, spring training sites across Florida and Arizona were shut down due to the aforementioned pandemic, and players were allowed to go back home, where they would have to stay prepared for the 2020 season on their own outside of phone/video conference calls with their respective coaching staffs.

Flash forward from March to where things stand right now, and Red Sox pitchers and catchers, along with the rest of the team, are ready to report to Fenway Park on Wednesday for ‘Summer Camp,’ as it has been dubbed by MLB.

When speaking with reporters via Zoom on Wednesday, Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke provided some updates on his pitching staff, which included the fact that guys like Eovaldi, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Martin Perez have already begun to ramp up their workloads while at home these past few weeks.

“You look at guys like Nate Eovaldi and what he’s done so far, “Roenicke said. “He probably would be ready for a season in a week.”

It’s unclear whether Roenicke meant a 60-game or 162-game season, but it still an encouraging update pertaining to an important member of the Red Sox’ starting rotation nonetheless.

After signing a four-year, $68 million deal to stay in Boston two Decembers ago, Eovaldi struggled to stay on the field at times in 2019.

Last April, after just four starts, the Houston native required surgery to remove loose bodies in his right elbow, a procedure that cost him just about four months of the season.

Upon his return to the Red Sox as a reliever in late July, Eovaldi proved mostly ineffective out of the bullpen, as he posted an ERA above five over 11 appearances before closing out the season as a starter once more from August 18th on.

Due to his contract and lackluster 2019 campaign, Eovaldi has drawn the ire of many a Red Sox fan.

The 2020 season may be a truncated one, but if healthy, the flame throwing Eovaldi could prove his doubters wrong and emerge as a key cog on an overlooked Red Sox pitching staff.

Red Sox’ Alex Verdugo ‘Probably Farther Along Than Anyone,’ According to Ron Roenicke

In terms of preparations for the upcoming, abbreviated 2020 season, Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo is “probably further along than anyone,” manager Ron Roenicke told reporters earlier Monday afternoon.

That being the case because, according to Roenicke, the 24-year-old “has been on the field and hitting in the cage” under team supervision while other players have not gotten that opportunity.

Coming off a stress fracture in his lower back suffered while with the Dodgers last season, Verdugo, along with left-hander Chris Sale, had the opportunity to report back to JetBlue Park earlier than most players last month in order to continue his rehab.

Because of this, in addition to the fact that he remained in Florida during the COVID-19 pandemic-induced shutdown, the Arizona native was able to get some work in at the Fenway South complex in Fort Myers.

Prior to said shutdown ordered by Major League Baseball back in March, it looked as though Verdugo would miss the first chunk of the original 2020 season due to that stress fracture.

Now, as chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom told reporters last week, the former Dodgers top prospect “should be all systems go” once the Red Sox report to Fenway Park for summer training camp on Wednesday.

As things stand at the moment, it looks like Verdugo could split time in right field with Kevin Pillar as he eases his way back from that back ailment.

Roenicke also mentioned that things “could change [for Verdugo] depending on how things match up with opposing teams.”

Since making his major-league debut with Los Angeles in 2017, the former second-round draft pick owns a career .273/.335/.448 slash line in 355 plate appearances against right-handed pitchers, and a career .306/.333/.452 slash line in 133 plate appearances against left-handed pitchers.

The day-to-day status of Verdugo will certainly be something to monitor once training camp begins this week. As Roenicke put it, hopefuly there won’t be any setbacks and he’ll be ready to go once Opening Day 2.0 rolls around in late July.

Red Sox Add 47 Players to Initial Training Camp Roster Pool

The Red Sox have added 47 players to their initial player pool for summer training camp, the club announced Sunday.

Teams had until 4 PM eastern time Sunday to submit their initial training camp pools to Major League Baseball and could include up to 60 players.

Seemingly taking the conservative route here, the Red Sox have left 13 open slots in their initial club pool, although they have the ability to add more players later on.

Prior to Sunday, many assumed that Boston would include a bevy of top prospects in their pool, as has been the case thus far with other clubs, but that was not part of the Sox’ course of action, apparently.

Instead, corner infielder Bobby Dalbec was the only premier Red Sox prospect to make the cut. Other touted youngsters in Boston’s minor-league pipleine, such as Jeter Downs, Triston Casas, Jarren Duran, Tanner Houck, or Bryan Mata, did not. At least for the time being, that is.

It’s also worth mentioning that 10 non-roster invitees — Brian Johnson, Yairo Munoz, Domingo Tapia, Cesar Puello, Marco Hernandez Juan Centeno, Jett Bandy, Robinson Leyer, John Andreoli, and catching prospect Connor Wong — made the initial pool.

Veteran backstop Jonathan Lucroy, who signed a minor-league deal with Boston in February, did not make the initial pool, but according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the reason for that is a procedural one.

Among the players who make up the Sox’ 40-man roster, left-hander Yoan Aybar and outfielder Marcus Wilson were the only ones not to receive an initial invite to training camp.

As previously mentioned though, there is still plenty of time for other players and prospects to be added at a later date. We’ll have to see what chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. have in store once players begin reporting to training camp this week.

 

 

Red Sox Prospect Jay Groome and the 2020 Rule 5 Draft

Jay Groome is one of 49 Red Sox minor-leaguers who will be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this winter. That means that he will have to be added to Boston’s 40-man roster before the November deadline in order to avoid being eligible for said draft.

On upside alone, the former 2016 first-round pick will presumably make the cut, and will likely be part of the Sox’ 30-man taxi squad in Pawtucket for the upcoming, truncated 2020 season.

That being said, with it looking more and more likely that there won’t be any organized minor-league baseball at all this year, Groome loses the opportunity to further develop coming off an injury-shortened 2019 campaign.

Recovering from Tommy John surgery underwent in May 2018, the New Jersey native was not able to see any in-game action until last August, where he made a total of three starts between the Gulf Coast League Red Sox and short-season Lowell Spinners before the minor-league season came to a close.

A small sample size, the left-hander allowed one run on five hits and one walk to go along with six strikeouts over four innings of work in those three outings.

Since signing with the Sox out of Barnegat High School in July 2016, Groome has made just 20 starts and pitched 66 innings between three minor-league levels over that time period.

As mentioned earlier, injuries have played a factor in that. Not only did Groome undergo Tommy John surgery in 2018, but before that, he missed time in 2017 due to a strained lat muscle and forearm strain.

Before Major League Baseball shut down spring training in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it seemed as though Groome was looking forward to the full season of work ahead of him at the time.

He told WEEI’s Rob Bradford earlier in the year, “I have my family pushing me because they know I’m back where I need to be. I’m healthy. They just want to see me finally start up a full season again. It has been a long time.”

Things have obviously changed since then, though, and it would appear that the only in-game action the 21-year-old will see this year will be of the intra-squad variety.

Clubs across MLB have until 4 PM eastern time on Sunday to submit their 60-man player pools, half of which will make up the active roster to begin the season while the other half will serve as a taxi squad that will essentially remain on standby.

Many teams have already announced that a number of their top prospects will make up their respective taxi squads.

Although no official announcement has come from the Red Sox yet, expect Groome, Boston’s seventh-ranked prospect according to MLB Pipeline, to be one of the club’s touted youngsters to make the cut.

Jeter Downs, Triston Casas, Bobby Dalbec, Jarren Duran, Tanner Houck, Bryan Mata, Thad Ward, and Marcus Wilson are among the other Sox prospects who could also make up the club’s taxi squad.

What to Expect From Red Sox as MLB Roster Freeze Ends on Friday

Rosters across Major League Baseball have been frozen since late March. That freeze will end at noon eastern time on Friday.

Minor transactions have still taken place over the past few months, but beginning on Friday, clubs will have the chance to pick up where they left off earlier in the year in terms of roster construction ahead of a truncated 60-game season that begins in late July.

Prior to the roster freeze, the Red Sox were quite busy making some moves themselves with chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom at the helm.

Officially speaking, major-league transactions across baseball ceased on March 27th. Right before that, Boston made a few somewhat notable moves, such as acquiring minor-league catcher Jhonny Perada from the Cubs, signing former Cardinals utilityman Yairo Munoz to a minor-league contract, and optioning relievers Jeffrey Springs and Josh Osich to Triple-A Pawtucket, Colten Brewer to Double-A Portland, and Chris Mazza to High-A Salem.

By the last week of July, Bloom and Co. will have to narrow a pool of 60 players down to 30 ahead of a modified version of Opening Day on July 23rd or 24th, so it’s likely that plenty of roster shuffling is to come beginning on Friday afternoon.

On top of that, the Sox were involved in a handful of trade rumors prior to the roster freeze as well.

More specifically, talks between the Red Sox and Padres surrounding outfielder Wil Myers seemed to be heat up after Boston dealt Mookie Betts to the Dodgers in February.

Per The San Diego Union-Tribune’s Kevin Acee, the Sox were interested in acquiring touted prospects like Cal Quantrill or Luis Campusano from the Padres in exchange for taking on a portion of the $61 million owed to the 29-year-old Myers over the next three seasons.

According to WEEI’s Rob Bradford, though, “no trades involving the Red Sox were ‘imminent’ at the time MLB put a freeze on all transactions on March 27.”

March 27th was nearly three months ago, so it’s not out of the realm of possibilities to assume that some GMs might have some moves lined up for when the roster freeze does finally end.

That being said, when I “spoke” to Bloom via e-mail last week, he stated that during this long layoff, he has “continued to speak to counterparts and contacts throughout the game, but not to discuss trades or roster moves.”

Another aspect of the business side of the game that will return on Friday are contract extensions.

Prior to the pandemic-induced shutdown, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported in late February that “teams across baseball are trying to lock up pre-arbitration players to multi-year contracts that buy out free agent years.”

Outside of some rumors pertaining to Rafael Devers last fall, the Red Sox really weren’t linked to any other players on the roster who could be due for an extension before the shutdown.

Andrew Benintendi agreed to a two-year contract extension in early February, but that only buys out two of the 25-year-old’s three years of arbitration eligibility.

Other than Devers, Brandon Workman, who will become a free agent after the 2020 season, and Eduardo Rodriguez, who will become a free agent after the 2021 season, are certainly prime candidates.

Long story short, just about everything I mentioned above can be summarized in this one tweet from noted exceptional Twitter follow @RedSoxStats:

See you at 12 PM eastern time on Friday.

 

Red Sox Injury Updates: Alex Verdugo and Collin McHugh Making Significant Progress as Training Camp Nears

Two of the newest additions to the 2020 Red Sox are progressing well from their injuries, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom told reporters in a Zoom call earlier Wednesday night.

Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo, the centerpiece in the February Mookie Betts trade, was coming off a stress fracture in his lower back suffered while he was with the Dodgers last year. It looked as though he would miss quite a bit of the 2020 season earlier in the spring.

Now, with an abbreviated 60-game campaign set to begin late next month, the 24-year-old likely won’t miss any game time at all if all goes according to plan.

“He should be all systems go,” Bloom said of Verdugo Wednesday. “The only limitation on him at this point is what we’ve been able to do by virtue of the fact that we’ve been shut down. He’s handled everything great. He should be ready to roll as we get him ramped up. This applies to everybody but it certainly applies to him given what he’s been through. We’re not going to cut corners. But we’re optimistic that he’s going to be ready to roll.”

With Kevin Pillar and touted prospects like Jarren Duran and Marcus Wilson in the mix, the Red Sox still should not feel the need to rush Verdugo back from his back ailment.

Once the Arizona native reports to training camp at Fenway Park next week, things will presumably become more clear regarding a course of action to take before the season starts.

As for the other new addition, veteran right-hander Collin McHugh has been “doing well” as he recovers from an offseason non-surgical procedure to repair a flexor strain.

While getting back to throwing off a mound in recent weeks, the 33-year-old is “basically progressing towards games,” per Bloom.

“He has tolerated everything really well,” Boston’s chief baseball officer added. “We’ve tried to build him up really responsibility. Don’t know yet on an exact timetable but he is progressing really well.”

The Red Sox and McHugh agreed to a one-year deal in early March that included $600,000 in guaranteed money.

At the time, the one-year pact also included incentives that could bring its value upwards of $4 million, but things have obviously changed now due to a shortened season where players will receive prorated salaries.

McHugh, a native of Illinois, spent the previous six seasons with the Astros and has experience working as both a starter and reliever. That versatility could prove to be quite valuable this year if the hurler is healthy.

In non-physical ailment-related news, an unidentified player on the Sox’ 40-man roster tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month while exposed to the virus in his hometown. As of now, he is not displaying any symptoms, according to Bloom.

Red Sox Reportedly Reach Agreement With Third-Round Draft Pick Blaze Jordan

The Red Sox and third-round draft pick Blaze Jordan have reportedly agreed to a deal that includes a $1.75 million signing bonus, according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

Per Cotillo, “Jordan will fly to Boston next week to take a physical and make his deal official.”

Selected by Boston with the 89th overall pick in the 2020 MLB first-year player draft, the 17-year-old Jordan will receive a bonus that surpasses the $667,900 in slot value that was assigned to his draft position.

The slugging corner infielder out of DeSoto Central High School in Mississippi is the first of four Red Sox draft selections to reportedly sign with the club. First-round pick Nick Yorke, fourth-round pick Jeremy Wu-Yelland, and fifth-round pick Shane Drohan have until August 1st to sign.