Red Sox Make Second Round of Spring Roster Cuts

Four days after making their first round of spring roster cuts, the Red Sox cut 15 more players before taking on the Minnesota Twins earlier Sunday.

Out of those 15 players, eight were reassigned to minor-league camp, five were optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket, one was optioned to Double-A Portland, and one was optioned to High-A Salem.

The players who were reassigned to minor-league camp were cathcer Roldani Baldwin, catcher/infielder Connor Wong, infielder Jeter Downs, first baseman Josh Ockimey, right-handed pitchers R.J. Alvarez, Trevor Hildenberger, and Tanner Houck, and left-handed pitcher Mike Kickham.

The players optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket were infielders Bobby Dalbec and C.J. Chatham, right-handers Mike Shawaryn and Phillips Valdez, and left-hander Kyle Hart.

Outfielder Marcus Wilson was the lone player optioned to Double-A Portland, while right-hander Yoan Aybar was the lone player optioned to High-A Salem.

In total, seven players — Aybar, Chatham, Dalbec, Hart, Shawaryn, Valdez, Wilson — on Boston’s 40-man roster were cut from big-league camp on Sunday.

Out of the 14 non-roster invites still in major-league camp, the most notable are Brian Johnson, Jonathan Lucroy, Marco Hernandez, and Jarren Duran. Take away Duran and the other three are certainly vying for positions on Boston’s 26-man roster to open the season.

Some thoughts:

Seeing the two prospects the Red Sox acquired in the Mookie Betts and David Price trade get cut is not much of a surprise, but it is a bit surprising seeing names like Kyle Hart, Tanner Houck, and Mike Shawaryn be cut at this point in time.

At least in my mind, I thought Hart and Houck were candidates to fill the two vacant spots in the Sox’ starting rotation, while Shawaryn was competing for a bullpen role. Instead of beginning the year in the majors though, it looks like the trio of hurlers will start with the PawSox.

Guys like Chatham and Dalbec probably had an outside chance of making Boston’s Opening Day roster before Sunday, but if we do see them in the majors this season, it will have to come at a later date.

On a final note, I’m looking forward to seeing what Marcus Wilson does in his first full year in the Red Sox organization.

 

 

Nathan Eovaldi’s Strong Spring Continues as Red Sox Win One, Lose One in Saturday’s Split-Squad Action

In their second split-squad action of the spring on Saturday, the Red Sox experienced both victory and defeat, as they topped the Blue Jays by a final score of 5-2 at JetBlue Park, but also fell to the Phillies by a final score of 10-2 in Clearwater. They are now 5-10-2 in Grapefruit League play.

Starting with the game in Fort Myers, it was Nathan Eovaldi making his third start of the spring for Boston in this one.

Having yet to give up a run through his first two Grapefruit League outings headed into the weekend, Eovaldi’s impressive run continued against Toronto, as he held the Jays scoreless over three sharp innings of work while scattering one hit and one walk to go along with four strikeouts on the afternoon.

Both that hit and walk Eovaldi yielded came right away in the top half of the first, but he was able to maneuver his way around any trouble by punching out Brandon Drury before proceeding to retire the final six Blue Jays he faced in order.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 59, the 30-year-old had his four-seam fastball consistently hovering around 97-99 MPH on Saturday. His fourth start should come against the Rays on Friday.

In relief of Eovaldi, Eduard Bazardo came on to begin the fourth inning, and he served up a solo home run to old friend Travis Shaw in an otherwise clean frame of work.

From there, Josh Taylor struck out the side and stranded two runners in his third appearance of the spring in the fifth, Phillips Valdez fanned three over two scoreless innings in the sixth and seventh, Trevor Hildenberger surrendered one run on one hit, one hit batsman, and one RBI groundout in the eighth, and Robinson Leyer closed things out with a shutout ninth to preserve the win.

All in all, Sox pitching combined to give up two earned runs on two hits, one walk, two HBPs, and 13 strikeouts over nine total innings of work against the Blue Jays. Things did not go as swimmingly against the Phillies, which we’ll get to later.

For now, let’s talk about how a Red Sox starting lineup that featured Andrew Benintendi, Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez, Mitch Moreland, Christian Vazquez, Bobby Dalbec, Jonathan Arauz, and Rusney Castillo fared against Toronto starter Trent Thornton on Saturday.

Devers got things started right away in the first, as he reached base on a scorcher of a one-out single and came in to score all the way from first on a two-out RBI double off the bat of Martinez that could have been caught in left field had it not been for some nasty wind.

That early one-run lead doubled in the third, with Moreland doubling off Thornton and Dalbec driving him in on a run-scoring two-base hit of his own down the left field line. 2-0.

In the fourth, Devers came through again, this time plating Castillo from second and advancing Benintendi to third on another hard-hit, RBI single off new Blue Jays reliever Brian Moran.

Xander Bogaerts followed that up by grounding into a run-scoring 4-6-3 double play, and just like that, the Red Sox had themselves a 4-1 advantage.

Jantzen Witte and Ryder Jones provided some insurance later on in the seventh, with the former lacing a two-out double off of Julian Merryweather and the latter following with a double of his own to score Witte and make it a 5-1 contest.

Toronto would get one of those runs back in their half of the eighth, but that would be all, as 5-2 would go on to be Saturday’s final score.

Making the trek over to Clearwater now, it was top pitching prospect Tanner Houck making his second start and third overall appearance of the spring for Boston against the Phillies.

Coming off three scoreless innings of relief against the Braves last weekend, the right-hander had a much tougher time of things on Saturday, as he yielded six runs, five of which were earned, on four hits, three walks, and one HBP to go along with three strikeouts in just 1 1/3 innings of work.

The first of those six Philles runs came in the first on a hit batsman, a double, and a wild pitch. The other five all came in the second, although Houck was only on the mound for four of them.

He was charged with all six, but after coming out in a 4-0 game with one out and the bases full, Mike Kickham allowed two of those inherited runners to score on another HBP and wild pitch before eventually retiring the side.

Kickham also worked a scoreless third inning before making way for Domingo Tapia, who surrendered two runs (one earned) on two hits, a walk, and a passed ball on the part of catcher Roldani Baldwin in the bottom half of the fourth.

From there, left-hander Josh Osich worked his way around a two-out walk in an otherwise clean fifth, Adam Lau gave up two more runs on three hits, a walk, and a sacrifice fly in the sixth, and Austin Brice impressed by fanning four over two perfect frames of relief in the seventh and eighth.

Compared to the other game against Toronto where things went pretty smoothly pitching-wise, Red Sox hurlers combined to allow 10 runs (eight earned) on nine hits, six walks, and 14 strikeouts over eight total innings pitched against Philadelphia.

On the other side of things, a Red Sox starting lineup that featured Kevin Pillar, Jackie Bradley Jr., Kevin Plawecki, Josh Ockimey, C.J. Chatham, Marco Hernandez, Jeter Downs, Marcus Wilson, and Baldwin was matched up against Phillies left-hander Ranger Suarez to begin things on Saturday.

Pillar got the scoring started for Boston in their half of the third, and he wrapped up a two-hit afternoon by clearing the bases on a two-run double to left off Suarez.

At the time, that two-base hit trimmed the Phillies’ advantage from six runs down to four, but it turned out to be the only offense the Sox could muster with 10-2 going on to be Saturday’s final score in Clearwater.

Some observations from this win and loss:

Kevin Plawecki against the Phillies: 1-for-3 with one strikeout.

Jonathan Lucroy, off the bench, against the Blue Jays: 0-for-1 with a walk and strikeout.

Mitch Moreland, in his first in-game action since last Sunday: 1-for-2 with one strikeout and run scored.

Nate Pearson, the top pitching prospect in the Blue Jays’ system, is going to be very good.

Speaking of prospects, it was interesting to see Gilberto Jimenez, the Sox’ No. 5 prospect, make a brief appearance as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning of the game against the Blue Jays.

With 10 strikeouts through his first 5 2/3 innings of work this spring, I thoroughly believe Austin Brice should make the Opening Day roster.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll host the Minnesota Twins at JetBlue Park on Sunday afternoon.

Left-hander Martin Perez will get the start for Boston, while right-hander Kenta Maeda will do the same for Minnesota.

Ryan Brasier, Heath Hembree, and Chris Mazza are among those who are expected to follow Perez.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT. Remember to turn your clocks ahead.

 

Bobby Dalbec, Marcus Wilson, and Connor Wong All Homer as Red Sox Tie With Tigers

After putting an end to a three-game losing streak on Sunday, the Red Sox drew with the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland on Monday to fall to 4-5-2 in Grapefruit League action.

Making his second start of the spring for Boston was Ryan Weber, coming off two scoreless innings in his last time out against the Orioles last Tuesday.

Working the first three innings this time around, the right-hander impressed yet again, as he yielded just one unearned run on three hits and zero walks to go along with six strikeouts on the afternoon. In other words, he struck out half of the 12 hitters he faced.

That lone Tigers tally came right away with two outs in the first, when a fielding error committed by Jose Peraza off a C.J. Cron single to left allowed Jonathan Schoop to score all the way from first. Hence the run not being charged to Weber.

Other than that though, the 29-year-old settled down and retired seven of the final eight Detroit hitters he faced. At this point, it certainly looks like Weber deserves a shot in the starting rotation to at least begin the season. His next outing should come on Sunday against the Twins.

In relief of Weber, right-hander Matt Barnes made his first appearance of the spring, and he struck out one over a perfect bottom half of the fourth inning.

Colten Brewer followed suit by fanning a pair in a 1-2-3 fifth, but things from a pitching perspective got ugly from there. That being the case due to the fact that Denyi Reyes surrendered four runs on two separate two-run home runs in the sixth and seventh innings, and newcomer Phillips Valdez tossing a clean eighth before running into more trouble in the ninth.

There, in what was still an 11-5 game in favor Boston, Valdez allowed five of the first seven Tigers he faced in the inning to reach base, resulting in three Detroit runs coming in to score to make it an 11-8 game.

That led to a pitching change that saw Adam Lau take over for Valdez with inherited runners on first and second, and he served up a three-run shot to the first man he faced in Travis Demeritte, who was also responsible for the homer in the sixth, to tie this thing up at 11 runs apiece.

Lau did manage to record the final out of the ninth though, and 11-11 would go on to be Monday’s final score.

The guys who are likely to open the 2020 season with the Red Sox — Weber, Barnes, Brewer — were fine. The guys who are likely to start the season in either Double-A Portland or Triple-A Pawtucket — Reyes, Valdez, and to a lesser extent Lau — did not.

On the other side of things, a Red Sox starting lineup that featured Kevin Pillar, Jackie Bradley Jr., Michael Chavis, Kevin Plawecki, Jonathan Lucroy (DH), Peraza, Bobby Dalbec, Josh Ockimey, and Marcus Wilson was matched up against a fairly familar opponent in Tigers left-hander Daniel Norris to begin things on Monday.

Kicking off the scoring in the top half of the second, back-to-back one-out singles from Lucroy and Peraza, in addition to a two-out RBI single off the bat of Ockimey, pulled the Sox back even with the Tigers at 1-1.

That stalemate would be short-lived, however, as Marcus Wilson followed Ockimey’s run-scoring hit with a towering three-run blast to left center field off the third pitch he saw from Norris. 4-1.

An inning later, it was another prospect making some noise, this time with Bobby Dalbec crushing a three-run homer of his own with two outs off of Zack Godley to give his side a commanding 7-1 advantage. His first homer of the spring.

Detroit cut into that six-run deficit by plating two runs of their own in both the sixth and seventh innings, but that did not stop the Boston bats from responding in their half of the eighth.

A leadoff walk drawn by Tzu-Wei Lin off of Anthony Castro resulted in another run when Jantzen Witte ripped and RBI double down the left field line. 8-5.

Witte scored himself on a one-out Marco Hernandez RBI single, and even though Hernandez got himself out on the bases, outfield prospect Jarren Duran kept the inning going by drawing another base on balls to bring catching prospect Connor Wong to the plate.

After flying out to center in his first plate appearance of the afternoon the inning prior, Wong did not mess around in his second time to the plate, as the 23-year-old backstop deposited a two-run big fly deep to left center field to make it an 11-5 game. His second home run of the spring.

As already mentioned though, the Tigers’ offense could not be silenced, and they battled back to knot things up at 11 runs each before this one came to a close.

Some observations from this tie:

Kevin Plawecki on Monday: 1-for-2 with a walk and run scored.

Jonathan Lucroy on Monday: 1-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored.

Marcus Wilson, Bobby Dalbec, and Connor Wong on Monday: 3-for-7 with three home runs, four runs scored, and eight RBI.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll travel to Tampa Bay to take on the New York Yankees on Tuesday afternoon.

Left-hander Martin Perez will get the start for Boston, while veteran right-hander Masahiro Tanaka will do the same for New York.

Perez scattered one hit and one walk over two scoreless innings in his spring debut last Wednesday against the Pirates.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EST. This game will be televised on ESPN and YES Network.

Eduardo Rodriguez Impresses in Spring Debut for Red Sox

After managing to score just one run in a 4-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins on Friday, the Red Sox fell to 3-5-1 in Grapefruit League action on Saturday following a 5-2 defeat at the hands ofย  a split Yankees squad on a sunny afternoon at JetBlue Park.

Making his first start of the spring for Boston for Eduardo Rodriguez, whose 2020 debut was pushed back to Saturday after he slipped and twisted his left knee in a bullpen session two Wednesdays ago.

Tossing the first three innings of this one, the left-hander impressed by holding the Yankees off the scoreboard while scattering two hits and zero walks to go along with six strikeouts on the afternoon.

Two of those three frames were perfect for Rodriguez. The only real trouble he ran into came in the second, when he allowed the first two hitters he faced to reach base on a double and single, but he worked his way through that with the help of an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play and proceeded to strike out the side in the third.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 52, the 26-year-old’s next outing should come against the Astros on Thursday.

In relief of Rodriguez, Ryan Brasier made his spring debut out of the Red Sox bullpen, and he yielded the first run of the day on three hits and a strikeout in the top of the fourth.

Heath Hembree also debuted in the fifth, and he filled the bases with two outs before getting Clint Frazier to hit into what looked to be an inning-ending infield pop fly.

Instead, Christian Vazquez lost the ball in the sun, the ball landed in fair territory, and two runs crossed the plate as a result.

A pitching change that saw Mike Shawaryn take over for Hembree didn’t fare any better for the Sox, as the right-hander walked another and brought in another Yankees run on a wild pitch to make it a 4-2 contest.

From there, Shawaryn finished the fifth, left-hander Jeffrey Springs punched out the side in the sixth, Yoan Aybar surrendered one run on two hits and a sacrifice fly in the seventh, and Brian Johnson closed things out with two perfect frames of relief in the eighth and ninth.

In total, Boston pitching combined to give up five runs (two earned) on eight hits and three walks to go along with 12 total strikeouts.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox starting lineup that featured Kevin Pillar, Jackie Bradley Jr., Vazquez, Mitch Moreland, Jose Peraza, Jonathan Lucroy, Bobby Dalbec, C.J. Chatham, and Marcus Wilson was matched up against Yankees left-hander Jordan Montgomery to begin things on Saturday.

Montgomery held his own in his two innings of work, and it wasn’t until the bottom half of the fourth when the Boston bats made some noise.

There, a two-out walk drawn by Mitch Moreland followed with a double off the bat of Jose Peraza and another walk drawn by Jonathan Lucroy filled the bases for top prospect Bobby Dalbec.

Up against new Yankees reliever Daniel Alvarez, Dalbec first contributed to the cause without even swinging his bat, as a balk from Alvarez brought in the pinch-running Tommy Joseph from third.

A few moments later, Dalbec did contribute with his bat, as the 24-year-old powered an RBI single to shallow left field, plating Peraza from third and giving his side their first lead of the afternoon at 2-1.

Fast forward all the way to the ninth, after New York had jumped out to a 5-2 edge, and three straight walks drawn by Jarren Duran, Jeter Downs, and Marco Hernandez to lead off the frame filled the bases and brought the winning run to the plate with no outs.

Alas, nothing came of a golden opportunity, as reliever Domingo Acevedo settled down and stranded the bases loaded by retiring the final three Red Sox he faced in order, thus ending this contest with a final score of 5-2.

Some observations from this loss:

It looked like Juan Centeno rolled his right ankle in the eighth inning while running to first and ducking an errant throw. He had to leave the game, but he was able to walk off under his own power and was later diagnosed with a sprained ankle.

Jose Peraza went 2-for-2 with a double and run scored.

Tzu-Wei Lin went 2-for-3 off the bench while playing center field.

Jonathan Lucroy went 0-for-2 with a walk and two strikeouts while serving as designated hitter Saturday. Kevin Plawecki did not play.

It’s still early, but not great first impressions on the year from Heath Hembree nor Ryan Brasier.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll host the Atlanta Braves at JetBlue Park Sunday afternoon.

Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi will get the start for Boston, while fellow righty Mike Foltynewicz will do the same for Atlanta.

Eovaldi is coming off a fine outing in his last time out against the Twins where he fanned four over two scoreless innings of work last Monday.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EST on NESN.

 

Connor Wong Crushes Grand Slam as Red Sox Blow out Orioles

In a game that was not televised, the Red Sox improved to 2-2-1 in Grapefruit League play on Tuesday afternoon with a 12-4 win over a split Baltimore Orioles squad at JetBlue Park.

Making his first start of the spring for Boston in this one was Ryan Weber, one of the many names vying for the fifth spot in the Sox’ starting rotation with just over a month to go until Opening Day.

Tossing two innings on Tuesday, the right-hander kept the O’s off the scoreboard while scattering two hits and zero walks to go along with one strikeout on the afternoon.

Both of those Baltimore hits came consecutively with two outs in the top of the first, but Weber was able to settle down and get Pat Valaika to fly out to center before retiring the side in order in the second.

In relief of Weber, left-hander Mike Kickham had a tough showing, as he surrendered one run in the third and three more, one of which was unearned, in the fourth due to a wild pitch and passed ball that got through Connor Wong behind the plate.

Hunter Haworth had to come on to try and clean Kickham’s mess up with two outs in the fourth, and he did just that by getting Anthony Santander to ground out to third.

From there, lefty Brian Johnson worked his way around a one-out single in an otherwise clean fifth to eventually earn his first win of the spring, while Domingo Tapia and Denyi Reyes combined for four scoreless frames of work to close this thing out with a final score of 12-4.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox starting lineup that featured a healthy number of regulars like Andrew Benintendi, Christian Vazquez, J.D. Martinez, and Mitch Moreland was matched up against Orioles right-hander Tom Eshelman to start things out on Tuesday.

Eshelman may not have given up any runs over the course of his brief two-inning start, but he gave up plenty of hard contact, including a line-drive one-out single off the bat of Vazquez in the first.

Two innings later, it was Vazquez coming through again, as he drove in Benintendi all the way from first on a hard-hit double to left off Orioles reliever Zac Lowther for his side’s first run of the day. 1-1.

In the fourth, the Boston bats once again responded to Baltimore, as they countered three more O’s tallies with three of their own on a two-run home run off the bat of Jackie Bradley Jr. and RBI single off the bat of Tommy Joseph to plate Bobby Dalbec from second.

Both of those knocks came off Lowther, and they pulled the Sox back even with the Orioles at four runs a piece.

Fortunately, that stalemate did not last long at all, with the first five hitters who came to the plate in the fifth all reaching off Hunter Cervenka on two singles, two walks, and one HBP to make it a 6-4 contest.

Marco Hernandez added on to that with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly to score Bobby Dalbec, Kevin Pillar re-loaded the bases with an infield single off new O’s reliever Zach Muckenhirn, and that brought Connor Wong to the plate with the chance to redeem himself after making a few defensive mistakes the inning prior.

On the third pitch he saw from Muckenhirn, Wong did just that, as the 23-year-old crushed a grand slam over the fence in right-center field for his first homer in a Red Sox uniform.

That gave the Sox a commanding 11-4 advantage, and after Nick Longhi scored on a fielding error in the same inning, 12-4 would go on to be Tuesday’s final score.

Some observations from this win:

Because this game was not televised, I really do not have much to add here. Kevin Pillar went 2-for-2 with a double off the bench and Mitch Moreland hit a triple. Both of those things are nice to see.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll travel to Bradenton to take on the Pittsburgh Pirates for the first time this spring.

Left-hander Martin Perez will make his Red Sox debut for Boston, while right-hander Mitch Keller will get the start for Pittsburgh.

Perez is essentially a lock to be the No. 4 starter this year, so I’m looking forward to see how his first outing goes even if it is just an exhibition game. He is no stranger to the Grapefruit League either.

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT at LECOM Park. This game won’t be on NESN, but it will be on the Pirates’ network, so if you have MLB.TV, you are in luck.

 

Red Sox Bring Back Mitch Moreland on One-Year Deal

The Red Sox have brought back free-agent first baseman Mitch Moreland on a one-year, $3 million deal for the 2020 season. In a corresponding move, right-handed pitching prospect Denyi Reyes was designated for assignment in order to make room for Moreland on the 40-man roster. The club made the transactions official earlier Tuesday.

According to The Athletics’ Ken Rosenthal, Moreland’s new contract will net him $2.5 million in 2020 and also includes a $3 million club option or $500,000 buyout for 2021.

The 34-year-old veteran had spent the previous three seasons with Boston after agreeing to a one-year, $5.5 million deal in December 2016 and a two-year, $13 million deal in December 2017.

Most recently, Moreland slashed .252/.328/.507 with 19 home runs and 58 RBI over 91 games in an injury-riddled campaign this past season.

Since free agency began at the beginning of November, bringing back Moreland always seemed like an appealing option even with the influx of infielders the Red Sox have.

With Moreland returning, the Sox get a familiar veteran presence back at a time when it will more than likely be needed under a new manager. They now also have the ability to platoon the Mississippi native, a left-handed bat, with either of Michael Chavis or Bobby Dalbec, both right-handed bats, at first base.

Dalbec, the Sox’ No. 2 prospect, might need more time at Triple-A Pawtucket at the start of the season for development or service time purposes, so there will be no need to rush the 24-year-old up now.

Chavis, meanwhile, has the opportunity to hover around the field now without committing to a single position, as noted by The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

As for the other side of this move, Denyi Reyes was ranked as Boston’s No. 26 prospect on MLB.com

The 23-year-old right-hander was a surprising addition to the 40-man roster in November 2018 given how he had yet to pitch past the High-A level.

Making 26 starts for Double-A Portland last year, Reyes posted a 4.16 ERA and .243 batting average against over 151 1/3 innings pitched.

Presumably, the Red Sox would like Reyes to sneak through waivers so that he can remain with the club in a non-40-man roster spot capacity.

Red Sox Designate Sam Travis for Assignment to Make Room on 40-Man Roster for Kevin Plawecki

In a corresponding move to signing catcher Kevin Plawecki to a one-year, major-league deal on Thursday, the Red Sox also announced that first baseman/outfielder Sam Travis had been designated for assignment.

As the above tweet indicates, the addition of Plawecki on a majors deal meant that someone else would need to be removed from the Red Sox’ 40-man roster, and now we know that it is indeed Travis.

Originally drafted by Boston in the second round of the 2014 draft out of Indiana University, the 26-year-old was out of options headed into the spring, meaning he would have had to make the Sox’ Opening Day roster.

In a career-high 59 games this past season, Travis slashed .215/.274/.382 to go along with six home runs and 16 RBI while playing first base and both corner outfield positions.

There was a stretch during the summer where it looked like the former top prospect was beginning to put it all together (he had an OPS of 1.007 from July 26th to August 20th), but he ultimately fizzled out over the final few weeks of the season.

With this move made, it now appears that Michael Chavis and Bobby Dalbec are the top two choices to take over first baseman duties for Boston in 2020. A reunion with free agent Mitch Moreland or even bringing in someone like Eric Thames could be in the mix as well.

Like MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo points out, Chaim Bloom and Co. now have seven days to either find a trade partner for Travis, waive him, or release him if nothing comes to fruition. If Travis goes unclaimed, he will be outrighted to Triple-A Pawtucket and off the Sox’ 40-man roster.