#RedSox Reportedly Place Sandy Leon on Waivers

According to WEEI’s Evan Drellich, the Red Sox have reportedly placed catcher Sandy Leon on waivers.

This news comes as not too big of a surprise, given the fact that Boston was looking to trade or move on from one of Leon, Christian Vazquez, or Blake Swihart since the beginning of the offseason due to them not wanting to carry three catchers on their Opening Day roster this year.

Leon, 30, was initially acquired from the Washington Nationals prior to the start of the 2015 of season in exchange for cash considerations.

In his four years with the Red Sox, the Venezuela native slashed .229/.289/.347 with 19 home runs and 99 RBI over 293 games and exactly 1000 plate appearances.

More recently, he went 7/30 with one home run and five RBI over 37 plate appearances this spring.

A well-respected member of the club and more specifically the pitching staff, Leon’s presence will surely be missed in the Boston clubhouse.

“No disrespect to any other catcher I’ve thrown to, but he’s the best catcher I’ve ever thrown to,” said Rick Porcello after a start in which he allowed one run over seven innings against the Philadelphia Phillies back in August.

“His game-calling, he’s prepared for every start, for every pitcher, starting or bullpen,” Porcello quipped. “He’s kind of the heartbeat of our pitching staff. We rely on him a lot. He’s always on point, he always knows what pitches to throw. Gives guys different looks. He’s as good as it gets as a game-caller and a catcher.”

Regardless of how the players felt, the higher-ups clearly valued Swihart and Vazquez over Leon. That much is evident by the rumors that Boston was shopping the ex-National in trade talks as recently as last week.

Set to earn $2.48 million in 2019, Leon will remain on waivers for the next 48 hours, where he will either be claimed or cleared and then have the choice to remain with the Red Sox organization at Triple-A Pawtucket or become a free agent.

On another note, Drellich also reports that the Red Sox have informed Swihart that he has indeed made the team.

 

Advertisements

Chris Sale Fans Six in Final Tune-Up Before Opening Day as #RedSox Top Pirates

The Red Sox improved to 12-15-1 in their Grapefruit League finale on Saturday afternoon, defeating the a split Pittsburgh Pirates squad by a final score of 12-3 for their fourth consecutive victory.

Making his final tune-up before the start of the regular season in this one was Chris Sale.

Fresh off inking a five-year, $145 million contract extension, the left-hander looked as sharp as ever on Saturday, holding the Pirates scoreless on just two hits and one walk to go along with six strikeouts over five impressive innings of work.

In total, Sale faced 16 hitters and needed 73 pitches to get through those five frames and fanned three straight to end his day on a positive note.

As you probably already know, Sale’s next start will come on Opening Day out in Seattle, Wa., two days before the hurler’s 30th birthday.

From the beginning of the sixth inning on, Heath Hembree and Brian Johnson combined to allow three Pirates runs to score on seven hits, a pair of walks, and six strikeouts themselves.

Hembree was the one responsible for all three of those runs, as he served up a one out, three-run home run to Pittsburgh’s second-ranked prospect Ke’Bryan Hayes, which at the time cut Boston’s lead to one run.

Overall, not a great showing from Hembree, but if there’s anything to salvage from this particular outing, it’s that he retired the final two hitters he faced in order after giving up the home run to put an end to the Pirates half of the sixth.

Johnson, meanwhile, had to work his away around a bases-loaded jam in the seventh before eventually settling in and punching out four in three innings en route to securing the blowout win.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Pirates Opening Day starter Jameson Taillon to begin things on Saturday.

Similar to what they did against the Twins on Friday, the top of the lineup set the tone early, with Mookie Betts, Dustin Pedroia, and JD Martinez all reaching base with one out in the first.

Martinez drove in the first Red Sox run of the afternoon on a shallow single to center field to plate Betts, while Xander Bogaerts followed that up by driving in Pedroia on an RBI sacrifice fly to left. And just like that, it was already 2-0.

Fast forward to the fourth, and Bogaerts was at it again, this time leading off the inning with a triple off Taillon.

He would come around to score on a Jackie Bradley Jr. RBI double moments later, and Bradley Jr. would himself come around to score from second on a Brock Holt RBI two-bagger. 4-0.

After the Pirates had cut into that four-run lead in their half of the sixth, the Boston bats would respond almost immediately, with both Blake Swihart and Bradley Jr. capitalizing on a Pittsburgh throwing error and scoring their team’s fifth and sixth runs of the afternoon.

And in eighth, Swihart would wind up being the catalyst of a six-run inning with a two out single.

Jantzen Witte, Joseph Monge, Chris Madera, and Aneury Tavarez all picked up RBI as the Red Sox wold go on to run away with this one, winning their last game of Grapefruit League play in 2019 by a final score of 12-3.

Some notes from this win:

Tzu-Wei Lin was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket following Saturday’s victory, meaning the Red Sox now have 29 players on their active roster. Sam Travis should be next.

Jackie Bradley Jr. finishes his 2019 Grapefruit League campaign with a .333/.409/.667 slash line, three home runs, and eight RBI in 39 spring at-bats.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll head out west to Mesa, Arizona to take on the Chicago Cubs in a pair of exhibition games starting Monday, before the real thing begins.

Rick Porcello will get the ball Monday and both games will be on NESNplus and NESN, so stay tuned for that.

First pitch Monday is scheduled for 9:05 PM EDT.

#RedSox Reportedly Shopping Sandy Leon

According to ESPN’s Buster Olney and Marly Rivera, the Red Sox are reportedly looking into trading catcher Sandy Leon as Opening Day looms.

Going into 2019, we knew that the club did not want to go into the season with three catchers on their 25-man roster like they did last year. President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowksi made that much clear during the baseball winter meetings this past December.

Now, exactly one week before the new season begins, it appears that Leon may be the odd man out in Boston’s catching mix.

The recently turned 30-year-old backstop, who was acquired from the Washington Nationals for cash in March of 2015, is slashing .250/.382/.357 with one home run and five RBI in 14 games and 34 plate appearances this spring.

His competition for a spot on the Red Sox’ Opening Day roster is Blake Swihart and Christian Vazquez.

Swihart, who is starting for Boston Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Rays, has posted an .865 OPS in Grapefruit League play, while Vazquez has fared much worse with an OPS south of .300.

Now, Swihart would undoubtedly net the most return for the Red Sox in a potential trade. He may not be the best catcher of the trio, but he is the youngest and the most talented hitter of the group.

But, if the 26-year-old Swihart is the one who is poised to take over primary catching duties for the Red Sox, it would be interesting to see what the club could get in return for Leon, as well as what their plan for Christian Vazquez would be.

There’ll probably be more to come regarding this potential trade pretty soon, so stay tuned for that.

Nathan Eovaldi’s Solid Spring Debut Not Enough as #RedSox Fall to Twins for Seventh Straight Loss

The Red Sox fell to 6-12 in Grapefruit League play on Wednesday following a 9-5 loss at the hands of the Minnesota Twins, marking their seventh consecutive defeat. Minnesota now has the advantage in the race for the 2019 Chairman’s Cup at three games to two.

A recurring theme for the Red Sox these past few days has been star pitchers making their 2019 spring debuts, and that was the case once again with Nathan Eovaldi on Wednesday at JetBlue Park.

Making his first ever Grapefruit League start for Boston, the right-hander looked sharp, surrendering just one run on one hit and one walk to go along with one strikeout. A whole lot of one’s.

That lone run came off the bat of former top prospect Byron Buxton, who led the third inning off for the Twins with his fourth home run of the spring.

Other than that one mishap, it was relatively smooth sailing for Eovaldi, who faced one over the minimum nine hitters.

From the top of the fourth inning on, Colten Brewer, Brian Johnson, Adam Lau, Josh Smith, and Dun Runzler combined to give up eight runs on nine hits, two walks, two HBPs, and three strikeouts.

Working the fourth inning, the run allowed by Brewer was unearned due to a fielding error committed by Xander Bogaerts. Still, the 26-year-old was charged with a blown save.

Johnson, meanwhile, was handed down his second losing decision of the spring, as the southpaw got shellacked for four Minnesota runs on four hits, including a Brian Navarreto two-run homer, in less than two full frames of work.

In three outings so far this spring, Johnson owns a 14.40 ERA and 2.20 WHIP over five total innings.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup, which again featured many regulars, was matched up against Twins ace Jose Berrios to start things off.

Getting the scoring started for Boston in this one was Blake Swihart, who built on his ninth inning RBI double from Tuesday with a two RBI two-bagger in the second inning on Wednesday.

Fast forward all the way to the sixth, after the Twins had just jumped out to a 6-2 lead of their own, and Brock Holt pulled the Red Sox a little closer by driving in Eduardo Nunez all the way from first on an RBI double off Matt Magill. For Holt, his fifth RBI of the spring.

Finally, in the ninth, with this contest essentially out of reach in Minnesota’s favor already, Red Sox prospect Tate Matheny tried to get another late rally started with a two out, two-run triple off Twins reliever Dusten Knight.

Alas, Minnesota would hold on to take this one, as 9-5 would be your final score on Wednesday.

Some notes from this loss:

JD Martinez was initially slated to start at left field for the Red Sox, but was scratched from Boston’s lineup due to back tightness. That is why Bryce Brentz started in left instead.

The Red Sox are 0-7 in their last seven games. In those seven games, they have been outscored 53-15. I understand that it’s just spring training, but it’s something to keep an eye on nonetheless.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll make the trek up north to visit the Detroit Tigers at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland on Thursday.

Eduardo Rodriguez will be making the start for Boston, while fellow left-hander Matthew Boyd will do the same for Detroit.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 1:05 EDT. MLB Network will have it covered.

David Price Fans Four in Spring Debut as #RedSox Drop Sixth Straight

After an off day on Monday, the Red Sox fell to 6-11 in Grapefruit League play on Tuesday following a 4-3 loss to the Detroit Tigers at JetBlue Park, marking their sixth straight defeat.

Like Rick Porcello did on Sunday, 2018 postseason hero David Price made his 2019 debut in this one, getting the start against one of his former teams.

Working the first three innings, the left-hander surrendered two runs on a pair of hits and walks to go along with four strikeouts in his first in-game action of the spring.

Both of those Detroit runs came in the top of the third, when with two outs and a runner on first, ex-Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer blasted his second home run of the spring to give his new club a two-run advantage.

Other than that one blunder, it was relatively smooth sailing for Price, as he faced three over the minimum nine hitters.

In relief of Price, Matt Barnes, Bobby Poyner, Darwinzon Hernandez, Marcus Walden, Erasmo Ramirez, and Jenrry Mejia combined to give up an additional two runs on three hits, six walks, one HBP, and six strikeouts over the final six frames.

Barnes, who looks poised to be Boston’s closer to start out the 2019 campaign, bounced back from a rough spring debut Saturday and escaped a fourth inning bases loaded jam while holding Detroit scoreless on Tuesday.

Hernandez, meanwhile, had his scoreless appearances streak come to an end in this one, as he allowed Daz Cameron to score on a Kody Eaves two out RBI double in the sixth.

Finally, to close things out, Mejia sat down all but one of the four Detroit hitters he faced in a shutout ninth inning to keep Boston’s deficit at three.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup, which featured the likes of Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts, Rafael Devers, JD Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, Mitch Moreland, Dustin Pedroia, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Christian Vazquez was held in check yet again.

Matched up against Tigers left-hander Daniel Norris to start things off, Boston was limited to just three runs on the day, which is actually the most they have scored in a game since last Tuesday.

In fact, all three of those runs were plated in the Red Sox’ half of the ninth.

CJ Chatham got the late rally started by drawing a leadoff walk against Tigers reliever Kyle Funkhouser, who then proceeded to hit Sam Travis with a pitch to put runners on first and second.

Mike Miller followed that up by driving in Chatham on an RBI single up the middle, which in turn led to a Detroit pitching change.

With Jose Manuel Fernandez now on the mound for Detroit and one out in the inning, Blake Swihart pulled his club one run closer by lacing an RBI double left to score Travis and advance Miller to third, who would then come around to plate the third run of the frame on a Gorkys Hernandez RBI groundout.

Unfortunately, a Bryce Brentz strikeout would put an end to any potential comeback effort, and 4-3 would be your final score on Tuesday in favor of Detroit.

Some notes from this loss:

When asked about Price’s outing, Red Sox manager Alex Cora said, “David looked excellent. Velocity. Command. Presence on the mound.”

When asked about it himself, Price responded with a bit of self-criticism.

“To be honest, that homer is not what bothers me the most,” the southpaw said following his start. “It’s the two two-out walks that I had. Gave up that homer and then went 2-0 on the next hitter and then was able to bounce back and throw quality strikes and get that third out. First time back out there in however many months, I’m okay with it.”

On the field, Dustin Pedroia went 1/2 with a single in his second game back, while Blake Swihart accounted for Boston’s lone extra-base hit on Tuesday with that ninth inning RBI two-bagger.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll host the Minnesota Twins at JetBlue Park on Wednesday in the fifth installment of the 2019 Chairman’s Cup.

Right-hander Jose Berrios will be getting the ball for Minnesota, while fellow righty Nathan Eovaldi will be making his 2019 debut as well as his first ever Grapefruit League start for Boston.

Looking to put an end to this six-game skid, first pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 1:05 ET at JetBlue. This game will not be televised.

 

Eduardo Rodriguez Impresses in Four Innings as #RedSox Fall to Mets for Fourth Straight Loss

The Red Sox fell to a not so nice 6-9 in Grapefruit League play on Saturday afternoon following a blowout 10-2 loss at the hands of the New York Mets at JetBlue Park, marking their fourth straight defeat.

Eduardo Rodriguez got the start in this one and was impressive yet again, as the left-hander worked the first four frames and held New York to just one run on three hits and one walk to go along with a trio of strikeouts. He faced 15 hitters.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora said that he would like to see Rodriguez be more aggressive following his previous start this past Monday.

When asked about the Venezuela native’s outing on Saturday, Cora seemed encouraged with what he saw.

In relief of Rodriguez, Matt Barnes, Tyler Thornburg, Josh Taylor, and Domingo Tapia surrendered nine runs on 12 hits, one walk, and four strikeouts over the final five innings.

For Barnes, Saturday’s outing marked the right-hander’s 2019 spring debut. He allowed hits to four of the first five hitters he faced , which in turn resulted in three New York runs coming around to score in the fifth.

Thornburg, meanwhile, served up a monster solo home run to Mets first baseman Pete Alonso to lead off the sixth before allowing an additional two runs as well.

Through four appearances and four innings pitched this spring, the former Brewer owns a gargantuan 15.75 ERA and 3.00 WHIP.

When asked about Thronburg’s underwhelming performances so far in 2019, Cora implied that it’s now “go-time,” for the right-hander.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was held in check by Mets starter Zack Wheeler, as the 28-year-old hurler allowed just one hit and no walks while fanning three over four shutout innings of work.

As a matter of fact, the only inning Boston could put across any runs came in the first inning without Wheeler on the mound for New York in the bottom half of the fifth.

Blake Swihart got the scoring started with a two out RBI single off Kyle Dowdy to plate Sam Travis from second, and Andrew Benintendi drove in Swihart on another RBI single that also happened to end the inning with Christian Vazquez getting thrown out at home.

 

That made it a 4-2 game at the time, but the Mets would go on to score six unanswered, as the final score in this one was 10-2 in favor of New York.

Some notes from this loss:

Blake Swihart went 1/2 on Saturday with that RBI single. He started at catcher and played the first five innings.

Speaking of catchers, Christian Vazquez, who DH’d, went 2/3 on Saturday with a double and a strikeout.

Rafael Devers went 1/3 with a triple. He has yet to hit a three-bagger in a regular season game.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll look to put a stop to their four-game skid on the road against the Tampa Bay Ray in Port Charlotte on Sunday.

Right-hander Rick Porcello is set to make his first start of 2019 in this one, while fellow righty Casey Sadler will make the start for Tampa Bay.

First pitch at Charlotte Sports Park on Sunday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT. NESN will have it covered.

 

Tzu-Wei Lin Homers, Collects Three RBI in Seven-Run Fourth as #RedSox Cruise past Nationals

The Red Sox improved to 6-5 in Grapefruit League play on Tuesday following an 8-4 win over the Washington Nationals in West Palm Beach for their third consecutive victory.

Hector Velazquez got the start in this one five days after his last outing, which also came against the Nationals.

This time out, the right-hander had a bit of an easier time of things, limiting Washington to one run on four hits, no walks, and one HBP while striking out three over two-and-two-thirds innings of work.

After allowing two of the first four hitters he faced in the third to reach base and plate the Nationals’ first run of the afternoon, Velazquez’s day came to an end and in came right-hander Trevor Kelley.

Kelley retired the only hitter he faced, Victor Robles, to end Washington’s rally in the third, which ended up being good enough to notch his first winning decision of the spring.

From there, Bobby Poyner, Travis Lakins, Jenrry Mejia, Domingo Tapia, and Josh Taylor combined to surrender three runs on six hits and two walks to go along with four strikeouts.

Mejia, who last pitched five days ago like Velazquez, allowed the first three hitters he faced to reach base in the seventh, which resulted in the Nationals scoring their second and third runs of the day on an Austin Vloth two RBI single.

The ex-Met finished the inning without surrendering another run with the help of a double play, but it was far from the three-strikeout performance he put together in his Red Sox debut.

Taylor, who was responsible for the ninth and final inning, wrapped things up on Tuesday by allowing another Nats run to score on an additional two hits before securing the victory for Boston by getting Chuck Taylor to line out to Cole Sturgeon.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was once again matched up against ace right-hander Max Scherzer for the Nationals.

After shutting the Boston bats out over three frames of work last Thursday, the three-time Cy Young Award winner did not have that dominating of an outing today.

Instead, Scherzer finally cracked in the fourth inning this time around, as leadoff man Tzu-Wei Lin got the scoring started for the Red Sox by launching a solo home run, his first of the spring.

That homer would turn out to be the catalyst of a seven-run inning from Boston, as Bobby Dalbec, Chad De La Guerra, and Tate Matheny went back-to-back-to-back with RBI base knocks, all while chasing Scherzer from this contest.

And the cherry on top of this offensive onslaught came from Lin as well, who drove in De La Guerra and Matheny on a two RBI single off of journeyman hurler Vidal Nuno.

Fast forward all the way to the top half of the seventh, and a Blake Swihart leadoff single would later result in Boston’s final run of the afternoon coming around to score on an RBI double off the bat of Oscar Hernandez to essentially put this contest away at 8-3.

As the final score indicates, the Nationals would score another run in their half of the ninth. So, in case you are confused, the final score of this one was 8-4.

Some notes from this win:

Through 16 at bats this spring, Tzu-Wei Lin is slashing .438/.500/.813 with one home run and five RBI.

In his first game back since leaving Red Sox camp for a few days to remember his brother, Blake Swihart went 2/4 with a pair of singles and two runs scored batting second and playing first.

Next up for the Red Sox, they head back to JetBlue Park to take on the Pittsburgh Pirates in a nationally televised game on ESPN.

RHP Nick Kingham will make the start for Pittsburgh, while fellow right-hander will do the same for Boston.

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 1:05 PM ET. Again, ESPN is the way to go.