Red Sox lineup: Michael Chavis batting leadoff in first start of season against Orioles

Fresh off getting recalled from Triple-A Worcester on Friday, Michael Chavis will bat leadoff for the Red Sox in his first start of the 2021 season against the Orioles at Camden Yards on Saturday.

The Sox called up Chavis, who was on the team’s taxi squad, from the WooSox after placing utilityman Enrique Hernandez on the 10-day injured list due to a right hamstring strain.

Chavis will get the start at second base while hitting out of the leadoff spot for Boston, marking just the fifth time in his big-league career he has done so.

In four previous attempts — all of which came during his rookie season in 2019 — the 25-year-old went a collective 5-for-18 (.278) to go along with two home runs, five RBI, one walk, and four strikeouts over 19 plate appearances. He led off each of those games without a hit and is also a lifetime .202/.276/.356 hitter when leading off an inning, though he has crushed four solo homers when put in that spot.

Up with the Red Sox for the second time this season now, Chavis has a chance to once again prove that he belongs.

The former first-round pick and top prospect had put together an impressive spring, but ultimately lost the competition for Boston’s final bench spot to Christian Arroyo, who unlike Chavis is out of minor-league options.

“He did a good job in spring training early on,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said about Chavis Friday. “I do believe toward the end because of the competition, he started chasing hits and he got out of his approach.”

Since making his major-league debut in April 2019, Chavis has experienced many highs and many lows in his time with the Sox.

As noted by MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith, Chavis batted 296 with a .389 on-base percentage, .592 slugging percentage, .981 OPS, nine home runs, two doubles, 24 RBI, 14 walks and 30 strikeouts over his first 26 big-league games and 119 plate appearances.

Since then, he has batted a subpar .228 with a .281 on-base percentage, .382 slugging percentage, 14 homers, 13 doubles, three triples, 53 RBI, 25 walks and 147 strikeouts over his last 111 big-league games (427 plate appearances).

“We know what he can do. I saw it in ‘19,” said Cora. “Obviously the league caught up with him. I do believe he did a good job in spring training knowing the boundaries of his swing. And hopefully, when he gets a chance here, he can do it.”

As Chavis prepares to make his first major-league start of the 2021 season against the O’s (15-17) on Saturday, here is how the rest of the Red Sox (20-13) will line up behind him.

Right-hander Garrett Richards will be on the mound for Boston, and he will be opposed by rookie left-hander Zac Lowther for Baltimore.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Michael Chavis: Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Rafael Devers steals base, scores from first as part of win over Orioles; Alex Cora joked that J.D. Martinez was faster than Red Sox third baseman; ‘He took it personally’

Rafael Devers put his speed on full display during the Red Sox’ 6-2 win over the Orioles on Friday night.

As part of a 1-for-3 day at the plate in which he reached base four times and scored a pair of runs, the third baseman picked up his second stolen base of the season while also doing some things that don’t go down in the box score.

For instance, after reaching first and advancing to second base on a missed catch error committed by O’s starter Matt Harvey in the fourth inning, Devers swiped third base, which would allow him to easily score on a two-out RBI single off the bat of Hunter Renfroe.

Later on in the eighth, Devers again reached base via a fielder’s choice and would come around to score all the way from first on a Christian Vazquez run-scoring double.

Per Baseball Savant, the 24-year-old’s top running speed this season is 27.3 feet per second, which ranks in the 62nd percentile among qualified major-leaguers.

By no means is Devers a speed merchant, but the young infielder has clearly been more aggressive on the base paths so far this year. Why is that the case? Red Sox manager Alex Cora gave his reasoning Friday night.

“I told him the other day that on one of the websites, they had J.D. [Martinez] ranked ahead of him speed-wise, and he took it personally,” Cora said with a chuckle. “He’s a good base runner. He’s a good athlete. He’s fact, actually. Just got to be careful with him, right? He scores from first. He takes his chances as far as stealing bases. He’s in better shape than last year, we know that. He’s a smart base runner. He’ll take his chances.”

Devers was not alone in the stolen base department for Boston on Friday, as Alex Verdugo picked up his third of the year and Vazquez notched his team-leading fourth of the year.

“They see stuff from pitchers and catchers and everything, and they take advantage of that,” Cora said of Devers and Vazquez’s ability to move on the base paths. “We’re very happy with the way we ran the bases today. We were very aggressive. We took advantage of certain situations, and it helped us to win the game.”

Following Friday’s victory over Baltimore, Boston improved to 20-13 on the season to become the first team this year to reach the 20-win mark.

While they do lead the majors in wins at this point in time, the Sox rank 10th among American League clubs in regards to stolen bases, as they have stolen just 15 and have been caught four times in 33 games.

(Picture of Rafael Devers: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Red Sox bring back Brandon Workman on minor-league deal: ‘Hopefully he becomes a factor this season,’ Alex Cora says

Over the winter, Red Sox manager Alex Cora attempted to recruit then-free agent reliever Brandon Workman back to the team he began his professional career with.

Cora ultimately came up short in his recruitment pitch, as Workman inked a one-year deal with the Cubs in February.

“My last conversation was Super Bowl Sunday with him,” Cora said. “And it was recruiting, actually, at that time. It didn’t work out.”

Workman was designated for assignment and subsequently released by Chicago last week less than a full month into his tenure there. The right-hander had posted a 6.76 ERA over 10 outings (eight innings pitched).

Upon hitting the open market again, Workman was available for any club to pursue. The Red Sox were one of this interested teams, but Cora did not take part in any recruiting this time around.

“I didn’t recruit him,” said Cora. “I gave up in the offseason. I wasn’t a good one.”

Workman ultimately chose to reunite with the team that selected him in the second round of the 2010 amateur draft out of the University of Texas, as he signed a minor-league pact with the Sox on Thursday and was assigned to Triple-A Worcester.

In his first stint with the Sox, the 32-year-old proved to be a valuable bullpen arm capable of getting big outs — especially in 2019.

Over 73 appearances that year, Workman put up a dazzling 1.88 ERA and .433 OPS against while recording 104 strikeouts in 71 2/3 innings of work.

The following season, Workman made just seven appearances out of the Boston bullpen before getting traded (along with Heath Hembree) to the Phillies in exchange for right-handers Nick Pivetta and Connor Seabold.

With Philadelphia, Workman struggled immensely to the tune of a 6.92 ERA in the process of blowing three of a possible eight save opportunities from late August through the end of September.

Despite those hardships, the 6-foot-3 righty still netted himself a big-league deal this past offseason, though the struggles he experienced with the Phillies carried over to his brief stint with the Cubs as well.

“He was excellent, right? Those numbers were amazing,” Cora said of Workman’s 2019 campaign earlier Friday. “I texted him a few days ago, just thanking him for giving us a chance. And just get to work. He feels good about it. Obviously it didn’t go well in the second part of the season last year, and it didn’t go well the Cubs. There’s a few things that we recognized with our information department that hopefully we can regain, and he can become a factor.”

One thing the Red Sox will be hoping to regain from Workman is his fastball velocity. The hurler has averaged just 91.5 mph with his four-seamer this season after averaging 92.5 and 92.9 mph with the pitch over the last two years, respectively.

To put that into perspective, opponents hit a measly .134 against Workman’s heater in 2019. They are hitting .556 against it so far this season, per Baseball Savant.

“When his velocity’s a tick up, it helps everything else,” said Cora. “Teams make adjustments. I saw his last one against the Braves and he threw a lot of breaking balls. And he threw some good ones and some bad ones. But I think with him, velocity is very important because the shape of the breaking ball and the spin, it’s usually the same. It’s still a good breaking ball. But if he doesn’t have something else to separate, he becomes a one-pitch pitcher. And like I said, game-planning comes into play. His cutter, too, is part of the equation. We’ve just got to get him back to gain his confidence, too.”

Considering the fact that he turns 33 in August, Workman adding a few more miles per hour to his fastball velocity seems like somewhat of a tall task. That being said, Cora appeared fairly confident that the former closer would be able to do it since he is back in a familiar setting with the Red Sox.

“Sometimes it mechanical. Sometimes it’s just go out there and get repetitions,” said Cora. “I don’t know how it went in spring training as far as his build-up and all that. But that was something we always talk about here — about his velocity… The velocity needs to be at a certain level and if that happens, then the other stuff is good, too. I know he’s happy. There’s a comfort level that hopefully can help him out to regain that confidence. And like I said, hopefully he can become a factor.”

When asked if he viewed the Workman signing as a gamble, Cora responded by saying that it could turn out to be a win-win situation if Workman returns to his old form.

“I don’t see it as a gamble,” he said. “I think it’s as a good opportunity for both of us. For him to get right and for us to have a good pitcher. Like Chaim [Bloom] has been saying since he got here: the deeper the better as far as the roster and the organization. This guy, he’s done it before, he’s done it in this market, and hopefully — like I said — he becomes a factor this season.”

(Picture of Brandon Workman: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox place Kiké Hernández (hamstring strain) on injured list, recall Michael Chavis from Triple-A Worcester

Ahead of opening up a four-game weekend series against the Orioles in Baltimore on Friday, the Red Sox placed utilityman Kiké Hernández on the 10-day injured list due to a right hamstring strain.

In a corresponding move, infielder Michael Chavis was recalled from Triple-A Worcester, the team announced Friday.

Hernandez was removed from Thursday’s game against the Tigers due to tightness in his right hamstring.

The 29-year-old led off the bottom of the first inning with a hard-hit double, but then needed to be lifted for pinch-runner Franchy Cordero after advancing to third on a groundout.

While he still traveled with the team to Baltimore in order to receive treatment on his hamstring, Hernandez was left out of the Sox’ starting lineup for Friday’s contest against the Orioles, hinting that an IL stint could be coming.

Through 30 games this season, the versatile right-handed hitter is slashing .239/.298/.425 to go along with four home runs and 10 RBI while primarily batting out of the leadoff spot.

Chavis, meanwhile, also traveled with the Red Sox to Baltimore as part of their taxi squad.

The 25-year-old initially opened the year at the club’s alternate training site in Worcester, but made his 2021 debut against the O’s when J.D. Martinez was placed on the COVID-19 related injured list for one day on April 10.

In his lone appearance of the season to this point, Chavis was used as a pinch-runner and scored the go-ahead run in the 10th inning of what would turn out to be a 6-4 win for Boston.

Chavis was returned to the alternate training site shortly thereafter and then made Triple-A Worcester’s Opening Day roster earlier this week. He is off to a 1-for-7 start with the WooSox.

With Chavis added to the major-league mix for the time being, the Red Sox gain yet another versatile option who can play multiple defensive positions.

“Most likely if something happens, probably that’s the route that we’ll take,” Cora said of Chavis during his pregame media availability Friday. “He’s versatile. He can play first, second, third. We can put him in left field. Right-handed bat. So if something happens, most likely it will be Michael.”

(Picture of Kiké Hernández: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Thaddeus Ward, top Red Sox pitching prospect, set to make Double-A debut Friday

For the first time since August 27, 2019, Red Sox pitching prospect Thaddeus Ward will toe the rubber in a minor-league game on Friday.

Ward, 24, will be making his first start of the season for the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs as they go up against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats — the Double-A affiliate of the Blue Jays — at Hadlock Field.

The young right-hander is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 10 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking fourth among pitchers behind only Bryan Mata, Jay Groome, and Tanner Houck.

The Red Sox selected Ward, a native of Fort Myers, in the fifth round of the 2018 amateur draft out of the University of Central Florida.

Since then, Ward has been solid at every level he has pitched at, most recently posting a 2.33 ERA, a .203 batting average against, and a 70:32 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 12 starts and 54 innings pitched with High-A Salem in 2019 after earning a promotion from Low-A Greenville in June of that year.

With no minor-league season in 2020 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Ward was left to work out on his own — with some guidance from the Red Sox — before being invited to the team’s fall instructional league at the Fenway South complex in his hometown.

Despite not having the opportunity to further develop during a traditional minor-league season last year, Ward is confident that he will be able to put his best foot forward in 2021 regardless of the circumstances.

“I think it is going to be difficult for everybody,” Ward told MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith last October. “But at the same time, I do have the confidence that I put in the work. I really committed to making sure I stayed on top of myself, made sure I kept doing what I was supposed to be doing and not let circumstances dictate if I get better or not… I’ve got to be better at the end of the day than when I woke up. That’s how I approached every single day. So hopefully when we get back into the games come spring training, or next season, whatever, hopefully I’ll be ready for it.”

Ward came into spring training this year having received an invitation to big-league camp as a non-roster invitee. He was later reassigned to minor-league camp on March 9.

In four Grapefruit League appearances, the 6-foot-3, 193 pound hurler allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits, four walks, and two hit batsmen to go along with four strikeouts in four innings of work.

“First things first, slow down. He doesn’t have to impress people,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Ward back in March. “We know the player. We know the stuff. We love the tempo on the mound. But we need him to be careful. Sometimes you come into spring and you want to open eyes. He doesn’t have to do that. We know what he can do.

“He’s a very likable guy, a great competitor,” added Cora. “He pays attention to details on the mound: slowing down the running game, great tempo. He knows what it takes. And stuff-wise, it’s pretty good. It’s pretty good. So excited to see him compete. I’ve been hearing about him for a few years. It’s to go out there and have a blast. That’s the most important thing.”

As he prepares to make his first career Eastern League start on Friday, Ward — who works with a sinker, cutter, slider, changeup, and curveball — is entering a somewhat pivotal year in his young career considering the fact that he is Rule 5 eligible for the first time come December.

In other words, the Red Sox will need to add Ward to their 40-man roster by November 20 if they want to protect him from this winter’s Rule 5 Draft.

Given Ward’s potential, that is almost certainly a lock to happen at the moment. Still, in what is sure to be an unprecedented season of minor-league baseball, how the righty performs this year will be something worth monitoring nonetheless.

(Picture of Thaddeus Ward: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Xander Bogaerts at 1,000: Red Sox shortstop becomes 30th player in franchise history to play 1,000 games with Boston

Xander Bogaerts reached a historic milestone on Thursday by playing in his 1,000th career major-league game, all of which have come with the Red Sox.

The star shortstop became the 30th player in franchise history to appear in 1,000 games in a Red Sox uniform, but just the 10th do so before turning 29 years old. He joins the likes of Bobby Doerr, Dwight Evans, Harry Hooper, Rico Petrocelli, Jim Rice, George Scott, Reggie Smith, Tris Speaker and Carl Yastrzemski in accomplishing that feat.

Facing off against the Tigers at Fenway Park, Bogaerts went 2-for-3 at the plate with a walk, an RBI, and a run scored as part of a wild 12-9 win over Detroit. He is now slashing a gaudy .356/.402/.593 on the season to go along with six home runs and 18 runs driven in.

With Thursday’s performance in his back pocket, the 28-year-old has now collected 1,125 hits for the Sox since making his big-league debut in August 2013. That currently ranks 23rd in team history.

Originally signed out of Aruba as a skinny 16-year-old back in 2009, Bogaerts has come a long way in his 11 years as a member of the Red Sox organization.

“It definitely means a lot,” Bogaerts said when asked what it meant to play his 1,000th game with the Red Sox. “I know I came a long way since the day I signed. Growing up as a kid just trying to learn how to play the game, be successful and get to the big leagues. Now I have quite some time now and quite some amount of games which is pretty impressive from a little kid just trying to get to the big leagues from Aruba. I’m extremely proud of myself and I’m thankful for everyone who helped me, especially my family, for always being there for support throughout the good and the bad.”

As things stand now, Bogaerts is a two-time All-Star and two-time Silver Slugger award winner who has played in and won two World Series titles with the Red Sox.

That is obviously impressive, but for Bogaerts to be where he is today was no guarantee.

After making a brief cameo in 2013, the then-21-year-old certainly had a somewhat rough time of things during his first full season in the majors in 2014.

Opening the year as Boston’s everyday shortstop, Bogaerts got off to a strong start, slashing .296/.389/.427 with three home runs and 13 RBI through his first 54 games.

Even while Bogaerts was putting up those solid numbers, the Red Sox brought back veteran infielder Stephen Drew after third baseman Will Middlebrooks went down with a broken finger. That was a move that would eventually require Bogaerts to move to third base, much to the chagrin of the lifetime shortstop.

On the night Drew signed with Boston — May 20 — Bogaerts committed two errors at shortstop in a home game against the Blue Jays and heard boos from the Fenway faithful as a result.

As The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier wrote in Homegrown, “the moment crushed Bogaerts and led him to question the organization’s view of him and his future.”

“What am I supposed to think?” Bogaerts asked reporters following that 7-4 loss to Toronto. “How will I know that if we’re 20-30 next year and I’m playing shortstop, they won’t do this again?

“I spent so much time working there and for what?” He added. “If I move now, how am I supposed to get better so that I can stay there?”

Bogaerts would remain at shortstop until Drew was ready to face big-league pitching: June 2, the date he was recalled from Pawtucket.

From that point forward, Bogaerts — despite moving back to short after Drew was traded to the Yankees on July 31 — slashed a dismal .206/.240/.324 for the remainder of the 2014 campaign.

For Bogaerts, looking back at that turbulent time in his career serves as an important reminder for how far he has come since then.

“I started off pretty good winning a World Series my first year. That was nice,” he said Thursday. “But I know my next year after that, I kind of went through a rough stretch. I remember getting booed in 2014, and I was so young. I was like, ‘What the hell are these people booing for me, man? I’m just 21.’

“I’ve learned a lot throughout the years, man,” continued Bogaerts. “I definitely got to give a lot of thanks to my family. It’s been so special to be able to accomplish all these things with everyone in my family that was a huge part of my life, my baseball trajectory. I’m very thankful for them to start with.”

Under manager Alex Cora, Bogaerts has added another dimension to his game. Not only has he been one of the more productive shortstops in baseball over the last four seasons, but he has emerged as a veteran leader as well.

“I do believe he is the most consistent person in the organization,” Cora said of of Bogaerts Thursday. “Off the field. On the field. Physically, what he does in the offseason, the way he takes care of himself during the season. The way he goes about his business. Everything’s about winning for him. He came here in 2013, had a taste, got a ring. That was a special group — a group of grinders: (Mike) Napoli, (Stephen) Drew, (Jonny) Gomes, David (Ortiz), (Dustin) Pedroia. A bunch of grinders. (Shane) Victorino. And he learned right away what it’s all about to play in this market, in this city, in this stadium, for this franchise. He doesn’t take a day for granted. He’s not as vocal or as loud as Dustin… But he’s always ready. He’s always prepared.”

Cora, who hails from Puerto Rico, is aware of how good some of the other shortstops in baseball are, including those from the island like Francisco Lindor, Javy Baez, and Carlos Correa.

“But I’m happy that my shortstop is Xander Bogaerts,” said the Sox skipper. “And hopefully, he can play here for a long, long time.”

As noted by MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith, Bogaerts is under contract through 2025 (vesting option for 2026), though he could opt out of his current deal after the 2022 season.

Since signing a six-year, $120 million extension with Boston at the start of the 2019 season, Bogaerts ranks first among qualified shortstops in hits, first in RBI, second in home runs, second in runs scored, second in OPS, second in wRC+, and second in fWAR, per FanGraphs.

To put it simply, Bogaerts is a quality baseball player on and off the field. And as he prepares to play in his 1,001st game with the Red Sox in Baltimore on Friday, the two-time World Series champion is just thankful to get to the 1,000-game threshold.

“If you asked me if I would have imagined playing 1,000 games, I would have been like, ‘That’s a lot,’ he said. “I definitely will take it. For you to be able to play 1,000 games in an organization, you have to be productive and be a guy who, pretty much, they can rely on. I’m happy with the player I’ve become.”

(Picture of Xander Bogaerts: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Franchy Cordero leads the way with 3 hits as Red Sox battle back to take series from Tigers with wild 12-9 win

It took all of four hours and 13 minutes, but after trading punches back and forth for 8 1/2 innings the Red Sox were able to come away with a series-clinching, 12-9 win over the Tigers at Fenway Park on Thursday.

Winning Thursday’s game was no easy task, as the two sides scored a total of 21 runs, notched a total of 30 hits, and committed a total of six errors while exchanging leads on six separate occasions.

Boston was ultimately able to come away with a drama-filled victory over Detroit, though, and they improved to 19-13 on the season because of it.

Hernandez injured injured in first inning

After leading the bottom of the first off with a hard-hit double off Tigers starter Spencer Turnbull, Enrique Hernandez would have to leave the game due to right hamstring tightness. He was replaced by Franchy Cordero.

Cordero would prove to play a pivotal role in a contest he did not even start. The outfielder came into the day in the midst of an 0-for-25 rut and wound up reaching base four times on an RBI double, a pair of singles, and a fielding error.

Early lead does not suffice

Cordero took over for Hernandez after the utilityman had advanced to third on an Alex Verdugo groundout in the first. J.D. Martinez then drove him in on an RBI single to give the Sox an early 1-0 lead.

Inserted into the leadoff spot, Cordero collected an RBI of his own in the second by plating Kevin Plawecki on an opposite field double to make it a 2-0 contest.

Rafael Devers and Plawecki doubled their side’s run total in the third on a pair of RBI singles, putting the Red Sox up 4-1.

At that point, Nathan Eovaldi — Thursday’s starter — had been rolling, allowing just one run to cross the plate over his first three innings of work.

The top half of the fourth, however, was a different story for the right-hander, as he gave up five hits in an inning that saw the Tigers bring across three runs of their own to knot things up at four runs apiece.

Back-and-forth in the middle innings

Eovaldi’s struggles continued in the fifth, as he yielded back-to-back leadoff singles before getting the hook in favor of Josh Taylor with one out in the inning.

Taylor allowed the lead runner he inherited to score on a wild pitch before allowing the second inherited runner to score on a run-scoring single off the bat of Niko Goodrum.

That gave the Tigers a 6-5 edge, and it closed the book on Eovaldi’s day. The 31-year-old hurler ended up getting tagged for six earned runs on seven hits, one walk, and five strikeouts over just 4 1/3 innings pitched. His ERA on the season now sits at 4.62.

Phillips Valdez allowed Detroit to double their lead in the sixth, but Boston answered back right away with Martinez ripping an RBI single and Devers lacing a two-run single up the middle to make it an 8-7 game.

Again, the Tigers responded by scoring two more runs over the seventh and eighth innings to go up 9-8.

Vazquez comes off the bench and delivers

Down to their final six outs, Devers — representing the tying run — led off the bottom half of the eighth by reaching on a fielding error. He would advance to second with two outs due to a wild pitch.

Plawecki then drew a six-pitch walk to put runners at first and second and was replaced by Christian Arroyo.

With the No. 9 hitter due up next, Christian Vazquez emerged from the Red Sox dugout to pinch-hit for the slumping Bobby Dalbec.

Fresh into the game, Vazquez came through with one of the biggest hits of the day by hitting a game-tying single off Tigers reliever Alex Lange to score Devers and make it a 9-9 contest.

Cordero followed suit by reaching on a fielding error committed by Jeimer Candelario that allowed Arroyo to score from third.

Now with a one-run lead in hand, Alex Verdugo provided some much-needed insurance with a two-run single off Gregory Soto to put the Sox up 12-9.

Ottavino picks up first save of the season

With Matt Barnes unavailable, fellow righty Adam Ottavino got the call for the ninth inning, worked his way around a leadoff walk, and retired the next three hitters he faced in order to preserve the 12-9 win and record his first save of the year.

Next up: On to Baltimore

The Red Sox will travel to Baltimore for a four-game weekend series at Camden Yards that commences on Friday night.

Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez will get the ball for Boston in the opener, and he will be opposed by veteran right-hander Matt Harvey.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Franchy Cordero and Rafael Devers: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Danny Santana goes 1-for-3 with single in first game of rehab assignment with High-A Greenville

While the Red Sox were in the process of losing a dramatic, extra-innings game to the Tigers at Fenway Park Wednesday night, an encouraging development transpired more than 900 miles away in Greenville, S.C.: Danny Santana began his rehab assignment.

The Greenville Drive, now the High-A minor-league affiliate of the Red Sox, were originally slated to open their 2021 season against the Bowling Green Hot Rods on Tuesday, but that game got postponed due to inclement weather.

So the Drive held their Opening Day ceremonies on Wednesday evening, and those ceremonies included the introduction of Santana to the Red Sox organization.

In a game started by top pitching prospect Jay Groome, Santana got the start at second base and batted out of the two-hole. He went 1-for-3 with a first-inning single, a popout, and a groundout before his night came to an end after five innings.

The 30-year-old utilityman originally signed a minor-league deal with the Sox back in March, but was hospitalized shortly thereafter due to a right foot infection. He also underwent an ulnar collateral ligament repair and augmentation procedure last September, as noted by MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith.

Prior to signing with Boston, Santana had spent the previous two seasons with the Texas Rangers, where he clubbed 28 home runs and collected 81 RBI in 2019 while playing every defensive position besides pitcher and catcher.

In regards to the Dominican native’s rehab, Red Sox manager Alex Cora indicated over the weekend that Santana will need a decent amount of time to get re-acclimated to the speed of the game.

“He needs at-bats,” Cora said on Saturday. “He needs a lot of at-bats. But I can’t tell you how many games. It’s more than two weeks.”

How Santana progresses from the UCL procedure he underwent last fall will factor into his timetable as well.

“I think he starts playing in the infield first and then he’ll move to the outfield obviously because of the arm,” said Cora. “But he’s in a good spot. He’s a full-go. It’s just a matter of the progression to do it right so we don’t push him too hard.”

Upon inking a minor-league pact with Boston earlier this spring, Santana originally had until April 30 to opt out of of his contract if he was not called up to the majors.

That opt-out date has since been pushed back to sometime in mid-May, according to The Boston’s Globe Alex Speier.

With that in mind, it should be interesting to monitor just how quickly Santana can work his way back to the point where he is potentially knocking on the Red Sox’ door.

Given the fact that he is versatile and hits from both sides of the plate, it goes without saying that Santana could provide the Sox with some much-needed bench depth once he is back in the full swing of things.

Of course, Santana being called up at any point would also require him to be added to Boston’s 40-man roster, so there would be some hurdles that would need to be cleared on that front.

(Picture of Danny Santana: Will Newton/Getty Images)

Red Sox injuries: Alex Verdugo scratched from Wednesday’s lineup due to tight back, Christian Arroyo removed after being hit in hand by pitch

The Red Sox were dealt a minor blow before and during their 6-5, extra-innings loss to the Tigers Wednesday night.

Outfielder Alex Verdugo was originally penciled in to bat second and start in center field for Boston in the middle game of this three-game series at Fenway Park.

At approximately 4:03 p.m. eastern time, MLB.com’s Ian Browne tweeted that Verdugo had been scratched from the Sox’ lineup “due to a back issue.”

Less than a half hour later, the Red Sox officially announced that Verdugo was taken out of the lineup as a precaution due to “lower back tightness” and that “he was prepared to play but the [team was] being careful.”

When asked what into the decision to keep the 24-year-old out his lineup on Wednesday, Sox manager Alex Cora provided some clarity during his postgame media availability.

“Tight back,” Cora said in regards to what was ailing Verdugo. “He came into the office, he didn’t feel right. So I decided to stay away from him today. Hopefully, he can feel better tomorrow.”

The fact that Verdugo had to be scratched from the lineup resulted in Enrique Hernandez moving from second base to center field and Christian Arroyo, who was not originally slated to start, getting the start at second base.

In the sixth inning of Wednesday’s contest, Arroyo was drilled in the left hand by a 91 mph pitch from Tigers starter Casey Mize. The 25-year-old was able to take his base, but he was removed after the seventh inning on account of the pain he was experiencing.

Later diagnosed with a left hand contusion, X-rays on Arroyo’s injured hand came back negative.

It was only last Sunday that the infielder took a 94 mph pitch off that very same left hand in the first inning of a game against the Mariners that would force him to miss two games.

“I don’t think he’ll play tomorrow,” Cora said of Arroyo. “He got hit in the same hand as he did last week. It’s pretty sore. X-rays were negative. We’ll see how he feels tomorrow when he comes in but we’ll stay away from him.”

With an already short bench, Arroyo going down Wednesday forced the Red Sox to move Christian Vazquez from behind the plate to second base while Kevin Plawecki took over catching duties.

Even with Arroyo already being ruled out for Thursday’s series finale and Verdugo’s status up in the air, it’s not unreasonable to think the Sox could call up a position player from Triple-A Worcester for the matinee against Detroit.

Cora ruled that possibility out, though, and instead suggested that the club could make some roster moves ahead of their four-game series against the Orioles in Baltimore this weekend.

“I think we should be okay tomorrow, if (Verdugo) plays or not,” said the Sox skipper. “We’re going to have to talk about, after tomorrow, seeing where we’re at physically and making decisions based on that.”

Before claiming reliever Brandon Brennan off waivers from the Mariners and placing Ryan Brasier on the 60-day injured list on Monday, the Red Sox had not made a 40-man roster-related transaction since April 18, when Tanner Houck was appointed as the 27th man for a doubleheader against the White Sox.

Additionally, MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo notes that Michael Chavis would be “the obvious candidate” to receive a call up from Worcester since Jonathan Arauz and Marcus Wilson are the only other WooSox position players on Boston’s 40-man roster.

(Picture of Christian Arroyo: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Rafael Devers returns to Red Sox lineup for Wednesday’s game against Tigers; Alex Verdugo scratched due to lower back tightness

UPDATE: Per the Red Sox, Alex Verdugo was scratched from Wednesday’s lineup due to lower back tightness. MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo adds that “Verdugo was prepared to play but the Red Sox removed him from the lineup as a precaution.”

After a day off on Tuesday, Rafael Devers returns to the Red Sox lineup for the second of a three-game series against the Tigers at Fenway Park on Wednesday night.

Devers was left out of Tuesday’s lineup due to a sore right shoulder that he aggravated in Texas over the weekend.

During his pregame media availability Tuesday afternoon, Red Sox manager Alex Cora did not seem all that concerned that Devers would miss a prolonged period of time after the 24-year-old received some treatment on his shoulder during the team’s off day on Monday.

He echoed that same sort of sentiment once again when speaking with reporters on Wednesday.

“Raffy, he was OK to play yesterday,” Cora said. “But why push him? We give him two days off.”

Devers will make his 28th start of the season at third base for Boston while batting out of the two-hole in Wednesday’s contest against Detroit.

The left-handed hitter is currently slashing .283/.368/.566 with seven home runs and 21 RBI through 114 plate appearances so far this year.

The Red Sox will be opposed by rookie right-hander Casey Mize for the Tigers.

Mize, who was selected by Detroit with the first overall pick in the 2018 amateur draft out of Auburn, comes into play Wednesday sporting a career 6.05 ERA over 12 starts (55 innings pitched) since making his major-league debut last August.

The 24-year-old hurler will be matched up against veteran left-hander Martin Perez, who will be making his sixth start of the season for Boston after lowering his ERA on the year to 4.70 in his last time out against the Rangers.

Here is how the rest of the Red Sox will be lining up behind Perez for the middle game of this three-game set. Verdugo was initially slated to bat second, but he has since been scratched due to a back issue, per MLB.com’s Ian Browne.

Of these nine hitters, Marwin Gonzalez is the only one who has faced Mize before. The switch-hitter is 1-for-2 with a walk, HBP, and strikeout against the Tigers starter.

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN. The Red Sox will be looking to improve to 19-12 on the season.

(Picture of Rafael Devers: Brandon Wade/Getty Images)