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)

Héctor Rondón retires from baseball shortly after signing minor-league deal with Red Sox

Just days after signing a minor-league deal with the Red Sox, veteran reliever Hector Rondon retired from the game of baseball earlier this month, per his transaction log at MLB.com.

Rondon, 33, initially joined Boston on a minor-league pact in late March, shortly after getting cut loose by the Phillies during the closing stages of spring training.

Upon signing with the Sox, the right-hander was assigned to the club’s alternate training site and had the opportunity to earn $1 million if he reached the majors this season.

With that in mind, the expectation seemed to be that Rondon could very well contribute to the Red Sox’ cause this year if they ever found themselves in need of more bullpen depth.

Instead of that ever happening, though, Rondon has opted to effectively end his baseball career by retiring.

Originally signed by the Indians as an international free-agent in 2004, the Venezuelan hurler went on to post a solid 3.49 ERA and 3.63 FIP over 444 career appearances (one start) and 436 total innings of work between the Cubs, Astros, and Diamondbacks from 2013-2020.

(Picture of Hector Rondon: Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)

Former Red Sox right-hander Mike Shawaryn signs minor-league deal with Royals

Former Red Sox right-hander Mike Shawaryn has signed a minor-league deal with the Royals, the team announced Tuesday.

Shawaryn, 26, was originally selected by the Sox in the fifth round of the 2016 amateur draft out of the University of Maryland.

In his time with the organization, the New Jersey native emerged as one of the top pitching prospects the club had to offer before he made his big-league debut in June 2019.

Over 14 appearances spanning two separate stints with the Red Sox in ’19, Shawaryn posted a 9.74 ERA and .978 OPS against while accruing 20 1/3 innings of work.

On the surface, those numbers were far from encouraging, but Shawaryn’s first exposure to the major-leagues was really a tale of two seasons.

From June 7 through June 18, the former Terrapin yielded just one earned run on four hits, five walks, and 15 strikeouts over his first six outings and 10 innings pitched. That’s good for an ERA of 0.90.

From June 22 through September 26, he surrendered a whopping 21 earned runs on 22 hits, eight walks, and 14 strikeouts over his final eight outings and 10 1/3 innings pitched. That’s good for an ERA of 18.29.

Despite those struggles, Shawaryn was still invited to the Sox’ alternate training site last July, though he was ultimately designated for assignment and outrighted off the club’s 40-man roster the following month.

Going into the 2021 season, the 6-foot-2, 240 pound hurler did not receive an invite to big-league spring training but was still included on the Red Sox’ initial alternate site roster.

It’s unclear how much work Shawaryn got while in Worcester, but he was apparently released by the Red Sox on April 25 and has since joined the Royals on a minor-league pact.

Kansas City should already be quite familiar with Shawaryn, as they originally drafted the righty out of Gloucester Catholic High School (N.J.) in 2013, but he chose to honor his commitment to Maryland instead.

Equipped with a four-seam fastball, slider, curveball, sinker, and changeup, Shawaryn has been assigned to the Royals’ alternate training site in Northwest Arkansas and will presumably begin the minor-league season with the club’s Triple-A affiliate in Omaha, Neb.

(Picture of Mike Shawaryn: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox prospect Jarren Duran spending time in left field at team’s alternate training site

Red Sox outfield prospect Jarren Duran has started to see playing time in left field at the team’s alternate training site in Worcester, as evidenced by his participation in Monday’s simulated game at Polar Park.

During the live stream of Monday’s sim game, Worcester Red Sox broadcaster Josh Maurer said that Duran has “been transitioning to playing corners over the past few days, not just in today’s game (h/t SoxProspects.com’s Chris Hatfield).

The 24-year-old was originally drafted by the Red Sox as a second baseman out of Long Beach State in 2018.

The area scout who had signed Duran, Justin Horowitz, thought that the speedster played second base well, but saw an opportunity for him to move to center field given his freakish athleticism.

“I just thought his athleticism was a little bit bottled up at second base,” Horowitz told MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith last month. “He could play second base. He did it fine. I had no issues with it. I just thought there was a chance for impact in center field if you could kind of let this kid go be himself and run around out there and be a ball hog. So that’s what I recommended.”

Since making the move to center field, Duran has emerged as the top outfield prospect in Boston’s farm system and came into the 2021 season regarded by Baseball America as the organization’s fifth-ranked prospect overall.

Of the 1,645 1/3 defensive innings Duran has played in the minor-leagues since making his pro debut in 2018, 164 have come at second base, 1,220 2/3 have come in center field, and 260 2/3 have come in right field.

Over the course of the spring, the 6-foot-2, 202 pounder only played left field on a few occasions after exclusively playing center during the 2019 minor-league season as well as at the alternate site last year.

The fact that the Red Sox have Duran exploring a new position comes at an interesting time considering the fact that corner outfielders Franchy Cordero and Hunter Renfroe have gotten their 2021 campaigns off to slow starts.

Cordero, who the Sox acquired from the Royals in February as part of the trade that sent Andrew Benintendi to Kansas City, is struggling to the tune of a .200/.265/.244 slash line out of the gate to go along with a 47% strikeout rate.

Renfroe, who signed a one-year, $3.1 million with Boston in December, is currently slashing .176/.241/.255 with just one home run and eight RBI over his first 58 plate appearances.

Despite the offensive struggles, Renfroe has proven to be the best defensive outfielder on the Red Sox’ major-league roster. The same cannot be said for Cordero, who at 26 only has 112 career big-league games under his belt over five seasons.

The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier wrote Monday that “the Red Sox aren’t at the point of giving up on either [Cordero or Renfroe], but their outfield situation hardly seems settled for the long haul.”

If Cordero and/or Renfroe’s struggles do continue, Duran would then represent a potential solution to Boston’s outfield problems, but only after immediate holes on the big-league club have been filled.

That’s why the Sox have made sure to get Duran acquainted with a new position while he is in Worcester as opposed to under the lights in Boston. Red Sox farm director Brian Abraham said as much in a recent conversation with Speier.

“If there is an opportunity for [Duran] to get to the big leagues at some point this season or in the future, if he gets put in left field at Fenway Park, we don’t want that to be the first time he’s playing left field in a professional baseball game,” explained Abraham. “We want players to feel comfortable in an uncomfortable spot and to prepare guys for the potential for there to be different things that happen, whether it be a transaction or an injury. The more versatile the player, the better chance they have of impacting the big league club.”

To put it simply, the Red Sox want to put Duran in a position (no pun intended) where he is capable of being a big-league contributor for an extended period of time.

By having Duran patrol unfamiliar territory in left field, the Sox are hopeful that the experience will open more doors for the California native to make an impact in the majors sooner rather than later.

That being said, Duran receiving a callup anytime soon is no sure thing. As Speier notes, the young outfielder “still has yet to play an official minor-league game above Double-A.”

The last minor-league game he played in also took place more than 19 months ago, too.

Because he is already in Worcester, it seems more than likely that Duran will begin the 2021 minor-league campaign with the WooSox, who are slated to kick off their inaugural season on May 4.

And while there is no timetable as for when Duran could be getting called up, the Red Sox will be sure to closely monitor how the left-handed hitter adjusts to a new tier of competition at the Triple-A level as he is coming off a year in which he made several improvements to his game on both sides of the ball.

(Picture of Jarren Duran: Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Red Sox catching prospect Connor Wong hits opposite field home run in exhibition game at Polar Park

While the Red Sox lost both games of their doubleheader against the White Sox in Boston on Sunday, the team’s alternate training site roster hosted the Mets’ alternate training site roster in a scrimmage in Worcester.

In that particular simulated game at Polar Park, in which the Mets won by a final score of 3-2 in 10 innings, Red Sox catching prospect Connor Wong had himself a solid day offensively.

The 24-year-old backstop went 1-for-3 at the plate on Sunday, and that one hit just so happened to be his first competitive home run of the year away from Florida.

Facing off against Mets left-hander Daniel Zamora — who has major-league experience — with one out in the home half of the eighth inning, Wong took a 1-1, 84 mph slider on the outside of the plate and crushed it deep enough to the opposite field that it just snuck over the Worcester Wall in right.

SoxProspects.com’s director of scouting Ian Cundall, who was among those in attendance at Polar Park on Sunday, described Wong’s homer as a “nice piece of hitting staying on a breaking ball from a lefty that started well off the plate.”

Cundall also commended the right-handed hitter for his “all-fields power,” while Worcester Red Sox broadcaster Josh Mauer added that “a big difference between [Wong] this year and last year is the ability to use the entire field.”

Wong, who turns 25 next month, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 17 prospect in Boston’s farm system.

The 6-foot-1, 179 pound backstop was acquired by the Sox along with Alex Verdugo and fellow prospect Jeter Downs as part of the blockbuster trade that sent Mookie Betts and David Price to the Dodgers last February.

While he was not able to experience the ups-and-downs of a conventional minor-league season last year on account of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Wong was able to continue his development at the Red Sox’ alternate training site and fall instructional league before being added to the club’s 40-man roster in November.

In his first spring training with Alex Cora back as Red Sox manager, Wong was able to leave quite an impression while at big-league camp in February and March.

Over eight Grapefruit League contests, the Houston-area native slashed .222/.500/.667 with one home run, one double, one RBI, and five walks in 14 trips to the plate. He was also solid behind the plate both in terms of calling games and defense.

“He controls the strike zone,” Cora said in his praise of Wong back on March 16. “Compact swing. Strong kid. I’ve been impressed with the way he swings the bat, the control of the at-bats.

“There’s a calmness about him that managers like,” added Cora. “And we’re very happy. Last year, he was part of the big trade, and I bet everything was going so fast for him. And now for him to slow everything down, and being able to work, it’s a testament of who he is as a person, as a player. And obviously he’s somebody that we’re counting on in the future.”

Wong is currently one of four backstops on Boston’s 40-man roster alongside Christian Vazquez, Kevin Plawecki, and Ronaldo Hernandez.

In the event that one of Vazquez or Plawecki would need to miss an extended period of time this season, it seems likely that Wong would be called up in their place, as was almost the case at the start of year when Vazquez required stitches after suffering an eye contusion and laceration under his left eye in late March.

Assuming that does not happen, though, Wong is otherwise projected to begin the 2021 minor-league season at Triple-A Worcester, who will kick off their inaugural season on May 4.

On another note, Michael Chavis also homered in Sunday’s game against the Mets’ alternate site roster.

(Picture of Connor Wong: Worcester Red Sox)

Eduard Bazardo tosses scoreless inning, picks up first career strikeout in major-league debut for Red Sox: ‘For us to accomplish what we’re trying to accomplish, he will be a factor during the season,’ Alex Cora says

Lost in the shuffle of the Red Sox sweeping their doubleheader against the Twins and extending their winning streak to nine consecutive games on Wednesday was Eduard Bazardo making his major-league debut.

The 25-year-old right-hander was called up by Boston from the alternate training site to serve as the team’s 27th man in Wednesday’s twin bill.

After not making an appearance in Game 1, Bazardo was called upon to work the seventh and final inning — a point in which the Sox already had a 7-1 lead, making for a low-leverage, low-pressure outing — of Game 2.

Bazardo, donning rec specs, high socks, and the No. 83, faced five Twins hitters in total; walking two, striking out one, and getting two more to ground out.

All in all, the Venezuelan hurler needed 24 pitches — 15 of which were strikes — to work a scoreless bottom half of the seventh and lock down the 7-1 victory for his side.

Of those 24 pitches, 11 were sliders, nine were four-seam fastballs, and four were curveballs. He induced four swings-and-misses with his slider while also sitting at 93-95 mph with his heater.

Though Bazardo was ultimately and unsurprisingly sent back down to the alternate training site in Worcester following Wednesday’s action, Red Sox manager Alex Cora seemed optimistic that this will not be the last time he sees the 6-foot, 190 pound hurler pitching for the Sox this season.

“I think throughout the season, this guy, he’ll help us,” Cora said of the young righty Wednesday morning. “Good fastball. The best breaking ball. Everybody talks about it in the organization, right? A strike thrower. A strike-throwing machine. He’s not afraid. He attacks the strike zone with good stuff. He impressed a lot of people last year. He impressed me in spring training. … For us to accomplish what we’re trying to accomplish, he will be a factor during the season.”

Bazardo, who does not turn 26 until September, was added to the Sox’ 40-man roster last November on the strength of an impressive showing at the team’s fall instructional league in Fort Myers.

He is currently regarded by MLB Pipeline as the 28th-ranked prospect in Boston’s farm system.

(Picture of Eduard Bazardo: David Berding/Getty Images)

Red Sox activate J.D. Martinez from COVID-19 related injured list, option Michael Chavis

Before wrapping up a three-game weekend series against the Orioles on Sunday, the Red Sox reinstated designated hitter/outfielder J.D. Martinez from the COVID-19 related injured list and optioned infielder Michael Chavis to the alternate training site.

Martinez was initially placed on the COVID-related IL on Saturday after waking up with cold-like symptoms.

Because of those symptoms, the 33-year-old slugger had to enter MLB’s COVID-19 protocol, which required him to test negative twice before being cleared to return to baseball activities. He took both a rapid and PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test.

In Martinez’s place, the Sox recalled Chavis, who was traveling with the team as part of their five-man taxi squad, from the alternate training site.

The 25-year-old was used as a pinch-runner in his 2021 debut on Saturday night, as he ran for Kevin Plawecki and was placed at second base to begin the top of the 10th inning.

He wound up scoring the go-ahead run after advancing to third on a flyout and coming into score from third on a wild pitch from Orioles reliever Dillon Tate.

While he was technically optioned to the alternate training site, Chavis will remain on the Red Sox’ taxi squad for the remainder of the team’s first road trip of the season.

Martinez, meanwhile, is starting at designated hitter and batting out of the three-hole for Boston as they go for their sixth straight win in their series finale against Baltimore.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of J.D. Martinez: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox taxi squad: Michael Chavis among 5 players traveling with team for first road trip of season

As the Red Sox prepare to begin their first road trip of the season, the club will be carrying five additional players with them as part of their taxi squad.

According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the five players that comprise Boston’s first taxi squad of the year are catcher Chris Herrmann, infielder Michael Chavis, outfielder Cesar Puello, and right-handers Colten Brewer and Ryan Weber.

These players, as Cotillo notes, “would be the first ones activated if someone on the 26-man active roster” gets hurt.

Per Major League Baseball’s health and safety protocols for the 2021 season, clubs are allowed to carry up to five taxi squad players for each road trip this season. One of these players must be a catcher, which is where Herrmann comes in.

Additionally, players on a club’s taxi squad are allowed to work out with the major-league team before games, but are not allowed to be in uniform or in the dugout during games.

When the Red Sox return to Boston after completing their seven-game road trip against the Orioles and Twins next Thursday, the likes of Herrmann, Chavis, Puello, Brewer, and Weber will all return to the team’s alternate training site in Worcester, which is where they were to begin the year.

(Picture of Michael Chavis: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Red Sox option Tanner Houck to Worcester: Chaim Bloom says rookie right-hander ‘is a capable major-league starting pitcher right now, but that doesn’t mean he’s a finished product’

The Red Sox optioning rookie right-hander Tanner Houck to the alternate training site in Worcester on Wednesday did not come as much of a surprise.

With Eduardo Rodriguez set to make his season debut against the Orioles on Thursday, the Sox needed to open up a roster spot in order to activate the left-hander from the injured list.

Considering the fact that Houck has minor-league options and Boston’s starting rotation already consists of Nathan Eovaldi, Garrett Richards, Nick Pivetta, and Martin Perez, optioning the young righty seemed like the most logical step to take so that Rodriguez could be slotted back into the rotation.

Since being called up by the Red Sox for the first time last September, Houck has posted a 1.17 ERA and 2.51 FIP over five outings (four starts) and 23 innings pitched. That includes his first start of the 2021 season against the Orioles over the weekend in which he gave up three runs (two earned) over five innings as well as a relief appearance in the 11th inning of Tuesday’s contest against the Rays in which he allowed one unearned run in one inning of work.

To say the 24-year-old out of Collinsville, Ill. has gotten his big-league career off to an impressive start would be an understatement, but the Sox still feel as though there are some things he can improve upon.

“Tanner pitched great, both in his start and his appearance out of the bullpen,” chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom told The Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato on Wednesday. “Simply put, this is about depth. We’re fortunate to have five guys we feel are good and capable major league starters. Tanner, we feel, is a sixth. We want to keep them all starting and keep them all pitching.”

Bloom acknowledged that while Boston’s starting rotation is set for the time being, injuries are inevitable and having Houck available to come up from Worcester could prove to be extremely valuable.

While Houck will be limited to just throwing bullpen sessions and in simulated games at Polar Park for the time being before the minor-league season begins next month, one aspect of his game the Sox would like to see the former first-round pick build on is continuing to develop a third pitch.

That third pitch, a splitter, is one that is still relatively new to the 6-foot-5, 218 pound hurler. Of the 100 pitches the righty has thrown so far this season, only three have been splitters.

“I think Tanner Houck is a capable major league starting pitcher right now, but that doesn’t mean he’s a finished product,” Bloom told Mastrodonato. “We know his ceiling could be even higher if he gets really comfortable with a third pitch. We know he can get lefties out, executing the fastball and slider the way he has in his big league starts, but if he can get more comfortable with that splitter, he’ll be even better. While he’s in Worcester, it’ll be easier to work on that than it would be while he’s pitching in a close game at the big league level.”

To put it simply, Houck is still “a work in progress” in the Red Sox’ eyes.. The hope is that he will be able to make more developmental strides while at the alternate site before being called upon once again.

“Keep working on his craft, on his pitches,” Red Sox manager Alex said in regards to what Houck can do to improve in Worcester. “Keep throwing strikes. Keep developing his secondary pitches. And just be ready. That’s all he needs to do. Where we’re at right now, we knew that this was going to happen. You look at the guys that have pitched for us, they’ve done an amazing job. And the difference between this team and last year — and even 2019 — we’re a lot deeper.

“He was a professional when we talked to him,” Cora continued. “He understands. Whenever we need him, he’ll be here and he’ll perform.”

(Picture of Tanner Houck: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox option rookie right-hander Tanner Houck to alternate training site

The Red Sox have optioned rookie right-hander Tanner Houck to their alternate training site in Worcester, the team announced prior to Wednesday’s game against the Rays.

The move to option Houck comes as no surprise with Eduardo Rodriguez slated to be activated from the injured list and make his first start of the season against the Orioles on Thursday.

Houck, who turns 25 in June, was initially slated to open the year at the Sox’ alternate training site out of spring training, but Rodriguez being placed on the IL due to elbow inflammation led to the righty breaking camp as the team’s No. 2 starter.

In his first start of the season, which came against Baltimore this past Saturday, Houck yielded three runs — two of which were earned — on six hits, one walk, and eight strikeouts over five innings of work.

He also allowed one unearned run while working the 11th inning of Tuesday’s 6-5, extra-innings win over Tampa Bay.

Since making his major-league debut last September, the former first-round draft pick has posted a 1.17 ERA, a 2.51 FIP, and a 31:10 strikeout-to-walk ratio in five outings (four starts) spanning 23 innings pitched for the Sox.

Despite the success Houck has been enjoying at the big-league level thus far, the Red Sox still feel like the 6-foot-5, 218 pound hurler has some work to do in regards to his development. A prime example of this would be to continue working on his third pitch: a splitter.

“It all depends on what you mean check all the boxes,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters Tuesday (including MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo) in regards to why Houck was going to be sent down. “You can be successful here but that doesn’t mean you have checked all your boxes from our end. And you can keep getting better.”

Another reason why the Sox are sending down Houck is because of the starters they already have on their roster.

With Rodriguez set to make his return to the mound on Thursday, Boston’s starting rotation will consist of Nathan Eovaldi, Rodriguez, Garrett Richards, Nick Pivetta, and Martin Perez.

Because Cora and Co. are not currently considering the use of a six-man rotation, Houck becomes the odd man out and will instead serve as rotation depth in Worcester.

Per Cotillo, “the expectation is that Houck will come up and start games later in the year if one of the veteran starters is injured or struggles.”

Until then, he will be limited to simulated games and bullpen sessions at the alternate site at Polar Park before the Worcester Red Sox begin their season in May.

(Picture of Tanner Houck: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)