Red Sox Call up Robert Stock, Option Jeffrey Springs to Pawtucket

Before taking on the Rays in the second of a four-game series at Fenway Park on Tuesday night, the Red Sox have recalled right-hander Robert Stock from the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket and in a corresponding move, optioned left-hander Jeffrey Springs to that same alternate training site.

Stock. 30, was originally claimed by Boston off waivers from the Phillies late last month after he was designated for assignment by Philadelphia on July 23.

Prior to this year, the University of Southern California product appeared in 42 games for the Padres across the 2018 and 2019 seasons, posting an ERA of 4.11 and FIP of 3.27 over 50 1/3 total innings pitched. His rookie campaign was much more effective than his sophomore one, though.

While working out at the Sox’ alternate training site at McCoy Stadium, Stock fanned a pair and reached 100 mph with his four-seam fastball in a sim game appearance over the weekend.

Per Statcast, the former second-round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals back in 2009 works with a four-seamer, slider, changeup, and sinker. The average velocity of his heater this past season was 97.9 mph.

If Stock gets into a game during this series against the Rays, I would expect it to come in a low-leverage situation. Of course, he’ll likely be available to work in Thursday’s bullpen game.

As for Springs, the 27-year-old southpaw was sent down to Pawtucket less than 24 hours after surrendering three runs on five hits in just 1 1/3 innings of relief against Tampa Bay on Monday.

Through his first four appearances with the Red Sox after making his first career Opening Day roster, Springs owns an unsightly 15.43 ERA and 1.164 OPS against over 4 2/3 innings of work.

With Springs now in Pawtucket, the Red Sox currently have two left-handed pitchers on their 28-man roster, and one of them is Martin Perez. Perhaps Darwinzon Hernandez and Josh Taylor are close to returning.

 

 

Red Sox Lineup: Michael Chavis Making First Start of Season at Second Base, Jonathan Araúz Starting in Place of Rafael Devers Once Again in Second of Four Against Rays

Michael Chavis will be making his first start of the season at second base for the Red Sox against the Rays on Tuesday night.

The just-turned 25-year-old (Happy Birthday) had seen all his playing time come at first base, but with right-hander Andrew Kittredge opening for the Rays in the second of this four-game set, Mitch Moreland will get the start at first, Chavis will get the start at second, and Jose Peraza will start the night on the bench.

Through his first nine games of the 2020 campaign, Chavis has gotten off to a rather slow start, slashing .233/.258/.467 with two home runs and four RBI over his first 31 plate appearances.

That being said, the Georgia native has looked more comfortable at the plate in recent outings, as he is 4-for-his-last-9 going back to August 5.

Chavis has only faced Kittredge one time before in his career, which actually came in Monday’s loss where he struck out for the final out of the contest, but he does own a lifetime .879 OPS in 48 career plate appearances against Rays pitching thus far.

Here’s how the rest of the Red Sox will be lining up against Kittredge and behind left-hander Martin Perez, who will be working on six days rest after tossing five scoreless frames against this same Rays squad at Tropicana Field last Wednesday. Note that Jonathan Arauz is starting in place of Rafael Devers, who is dealing with a sore left ankle, once again.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. eastern time on NESN+ and WEEI. Red Sox going for win No. 7 in game No. 17.

Red Sox Manager Ron Roenicke Impressed With What He Has Seen From Rookie Jonathan Araúz Thus Far

Going into Monday night, Red Sox infielder Jonathan Arauz was 0-for-9 at the plate to begin his major-league career and had only made two starts for his new club.

That all changed in the first of four against the Rays at Fenway Park though, as the recently-turned 22-year-old got the start at third base in place of Rafael Devers, collected three hits in four at-bats, and drove in a pair of runs.

The third and final hit of Arauz’s breakout night was without a doubt the biggest, when with two outs and the bases loaded in the eighth, the Panama native laced a two-run single to left-center field off Rays reliever Jose Alvarado to cut his side’s deficit to just one run at 8-7.

Boston may have gone on to lose to Tampa Bay in disappointing fashion on Monday, but Sox manager Ron Roenicke couldn’t help but be impressed with what he saw from the young infielder.

“With him, I tell you, he continues to not act like he’s out of A-ball,” Roenicke said of Arauz during his postgame media availability. “He’s calm, he’s good from both sides of the plate, does a great job, made a nice play defensively. He’s doing a great job.”

Prior to being selected by Boston in last December’s Rule 5 draft from the Astros’ organization, Arauz had played in 406 minor-league games since originally signing with the Phillies back in August 2014. Only 28 of those games, or 7%, had been above the Single-A level.

Because he was taken in the major-league portion of last year’s Rule 5 draft, Arauz has to stay up with the Red Sox for the remainder of the 2020 season. If that’s not possible, the club would have to offer him back to Houston.

Of course, the roster flexibility the truncated 2020 season has created has certainly be useful to the Red Sox seeing how they can carry 28 players for the rest of the year. But, as The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier notes, Arauz has “certainly shown enough in his all-around abilities to suggest that he might have stayed up regardless of the expanded roster.”

With Devers likely to miss a second straight day due to a sore left ankle, it will be interesting to see if the switch-hitting Arauz is back in the Sox’ lineup on Tuesday.

Even with the performance he put together on Monday though, Arauz would have liked to see things go differently for his side.

“Obviously, my goal today was just to help the team win,” he said through team translator Bryan Almonte. “Three hits is good to have, but I wish we would have gotten the win instead.”

We will see if the Red Sox can bounce back against the Rays on Tuesday night. First pitch is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. eastern time on NESN+ and WEEI.

Jonathan Arauz’s Three-Hit Night Goes for Naught as Red Sox Come up Short in 8-7 Loss to Rays

In a back-and-forth nine-inning contest that took nearly four-and-a-half hours to complete, the Red Sox came up just short in an 8-7 loss at the hands of the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday night.

Ryan Brasier served as the opener for Boston in this one, and in doing so made his first career major-league start. The right-hander stranded two base runners and recorded one strikeout in a scoreless first inning. That was it for him.

From there, Colten Brewer was dispatched as the “bulk inning” guy out of the Red Sox bullpen to begin things in the second, and he surrendered three runs, two of which were earned, on five hits and two walks to go along with a pair of strikeouts on the night.

The first of those three Tampa Bay tallies scored off Brewer came on a Kevin Kiermaier RBI single in the top of the second that could have been a double had it not been for Kevin Pillar gunning the speedster down at second base in the same sequence. The other two runs were pushed across with one out in the fourth, when Brewer served up a two-run single to Michael Perez. Again, the damage could have been even worse since Perez himself nearly scored moments later, but was instead nabbed at the plate off an Austin Meadows double.

Marcus Walden was next up for the start of the fifth, and he managed to only record two outs while walking a pair and yielding one run on a Joey Wendle RBI triple.

Upon giving old friend Manuel Margot a free pass on four straight balls, the righty was given the hook by Sox manager Ron Roenicke in favor of left-hander Jeffrey Springs.

Springs, coming off back-to-back scoreless outings out of the Boston bullpen, regressed a bit on Monday in that he escaped the fifth inning unscathed, yet conceded three runs while only being able to record three more outs on 51 total pitches (34 strikes) before Roenicke had finally seen enough.

With no outs in the seventh, a runner on second, and his side in a 7-5 hole, the Sox skipper turned to Phillips Valdez, who was able to get out of that mess before allowing a run of his own to score on three straight two-out hits and a walk in the eighth.

That all set up the recently-recalled Dylan Covey for the top of the ninth, and in what was now an 8-7 contest, the right-hander faced the minimum three batters to keep the deficit at one run. Not like it mattered much in the end, but still a somewhat positive development.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a familiar face in the form of Rays left-hander Ryan Yarbrough, who had just started against Boston back on August 5 at Tropicana Field.

This time around, the Sox bats got to Yarbrough early once more, with Xander Bogaerts, Michael Chavis, and Kevin Plawecki all coming through with back-to-back-to-back run-scoring plays in their half of the first. That early rally resulted in a 3-0 advantage for the home side.

In the third, J.D. Martinez, who had scored one of those runs in the first, followed an Alex Verdugo groundout by taking a 2-2, 84 mph cutter on the inner half of the plate from Yarbrough and crushing it 425 feet over everything in left field for his long-awaited first home run of the 2020 season. The solo shot put the Red Sox up 4-1 headed into the fourth.

Flash forward all the way to the sixth, after the Rays had bounced back to take a 5-4 lead, Chavis led things off against tight-hander Chaz Roe by lacing a double down the left field line and was promptly driven in by Plawecki on an RBI single. 5-5.

That stalemate did not last long though, as Tampa Bay jumped out to an 8-5 lead in their half of the eighth, which meant the Sox had more work to do on the offensive side of the ball. And that they did.

Down to their final two outs in the bottom half of the eighth inning, Jonathan Arauz came to the plate, already with the first and second hits of his major-league career under his belt, with the bases loaded and Jose Alvarado on the mound for the Rays.

After watching the first two pitches go by, the 22-year-old took a 97 mph slider on the outer half of the plate and ripped what would turn out to be a two-run single to an empty patch of grass in left-center field.

Arauz’s third hit of the night brought his team within one run of the Rays at 8-7. Alas, any shot at another rally fell short in the ninth, and 8-7 would go on to be Monday’s final score. What a doozy.

Some notes and observations from this loss:

From MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo:

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

J.D. Martinez went 3-for-4 with that home run and one RBI on Monday. Kevin Plawecki also went 3-for-4 with a pair of RBI.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the second game of this four-game set against the Rays on Tuesday night.

Left-hander Martin Perez will get the ball for Boston, while Andrew Kittredge, who picked up the save for the Rays on Monday, will open for Tampa Bay.

Perez put together five solid shutout innings in his last time out against the Rays at Tropicana Field on August 5. He’ll be going for his first home win of the season.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. eastern time on NESN+ and WEEI.

Red Sox Grant Left-Hander Brian Johnson His Release

Following up on this story from earlier Monday, the Red Sox have granted left-hander Brian Johnson his unconditional release, according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo and Christopher Smith.

As previously mentioned, Johnson had departed from the Red Sox’ alternate training site in Pawtucket to return to his home in Florida.

Although it appeared as though he could have been opting out of the 2020 season at the time that news was originally reported, it now looks like Johnson is unhappy with his role within the Red Sox organization more than anything.

That being the case because, despite having one of the more unstable starting rotations in the American League, the Sox have yet to give Johnson another shot at the major-league level this season.

The 29-year-old southpaw was outrighted off the 40-man roster and demoted to Triple-A Pawtucket last November following a shaky 2019 campaign, but after putting together a decent spring training and Summer Camp as a non-roster invitee, it seemed like Johnson had a legitimate shot to make Boston’s Opening Day roster last month.

Instead, the Florida native was assigned to the alternate training site at McCoy Stadium, was limited to simulated games and live BPs, and must have had enough of that once he realized he was listed relatively low on the Sox’ internal starting pitching depth chart.

Now, with his release being made official, Johnson will be free to pursue a new opportunity with another club if he so chooses.

Originally drafted by Boston in the first round of the 2012 amateur draft out of the University of Florida, Johnson had spent the previous eight-plus years in the Red Sox organization. He will be missed.

Red Sox Lineup: Ryan Brasier Set to Serve as Opener for Boston in First of Four Against Rays

As the Red Sox open up a four-game series against the Rays at Fenway Park to begin the week, Ryan Brasier will be making the first career start of his major-league career on Monday night, the club announced.

Brasier, who turns 33 later this month, will serve as the opener for the Sox against the Rays to kick off the new week before making way for Colten Brewer, who will serve as the “bulk inning guy.”

The right-hander out of Wichita Falls, Texas owns an ERA of 9.00 and an xFIP of 3.84 through his first five appearances and four innings pitched of the 2020 campaign.

As previously mentioned, Brasier has never made a start at the major-league level before, but he does have 38 career minor-league starts under his belt. Although, his most recent start came all the way back in 2015.

In his career against Tampa Bay, the former sixth-round pick of the Angels has yet to surrender a run over 12 outings and 12 1/3 innings of work, all while holding opponents to a .481 OPS against.

By rolling with Brasier here, the Red Sox will have already used eight different starting pitchers just 16 games into the season.

Here’s how the rest of the Red Sox will line up behind Brasier and against Rays left-hander Ryan Yarbrough, who got shelled for five runs over five innings pitched in his last time out against Boston on August 5:

Note how the left-handed bats of Andrew Benintendi, Mitch Moreland, and Rafael Devers are all absent here in favor of Kevin Pillar, who will be starting in right, Michael Chavis, and Jonathan Arauz, who is a switch-hitter.

Also worth mentioning, Kevin Plawecki is making his fourth start of the season behind the plate in favor of Christian Vazquez.

Among these nine hitters, J.D. Martinez has seen Yarbrough the best, as the Sox DH is a lifetime .636 (7-for-11) hitter off the Rays southpaw to go along with one home run and two RBI.

On top of that, both Chavis and Alex Verdugo took Yarbrough deep at Tropicana Field last Wednesday.

First pitch against Tampa Bay Monday night is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox going for their second straight win.

Red Sox’ Brian Johnson Reportedly Leaves Club’s Alternate Training Site in Pawtucket for Undisclosed Reason

Red Sox left-hander Brian Johnson has left the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket to return home to Florida, according to MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith.

Per Smith, the reason Johnson departed from Pawtucket is not yet known, but the “speculation is he could opt out of the rest of the 2020 season.”

The 29-year-old hurler was originally added to Boston’s 60-man player pool last month as a non-roster invitee and most recently worked 5 1/3 one-run innings in a simulated game at McCoy Stadium this past Friday.

This all comes as Johnson, who was outrighted to Pawtucket last November after clearing waivers, looked like a legitimate candidate to start once again for the Red Sox seeing how the club’s starting rotation is not in the best of shape.

Of course, the Florida native would have had to been added back to Boston’s 40-man roster in order to make that happen, but that now appears unlikely at least for the time being given this recent news.

Last year, Johnson missed significant time on the injured list due to left elbow inflammation and a non-baseball related medical matter. He’s also been very open about his past battles with depression and anxiety. I’m not trying to speculate on anything by bringing that up, but given this report, I sincerely hope Johnson is in a good place right now. That’s it.

 

Red Sox’ Mitch Moreland Received Extra Motivation From Ron Roenicke Prior to Walking off Blue Jays on Sunday

The Red Sox were one out away from playing in their first extra-inning game this season against the Blue Jays.

Instead, Mitch Moreland had other ideas in mind, as he took a first-pitch 86 mph slider from Toronto reliever Thomas Hatch and tattooed it 394 feet over everything in left field for his second home run of the day, with this one being good for two runs and a walk-off, 5-3 victory.

Going into that at-bat, the 34-year-old had an incentive to walk it off for his side thanks to this season’s rules for extra-inning games. That being, each team will begin each extra inning with a runner on second base.

With that in mind, had Moreland made the last out of the ninth inning, he would have hat to been that runner at second base to begin things in the bottom half of the tenth.

Fortunately for Moreland, who has a history of leg issues, and the Red Sox, that scenario never played out in real time, but the first baseman still joked about it during his postgame media availability on Sunday.

“I got a good pep talk from (Roenicke) right before I went up there,” said Moreland. “He said if I made the last out that I had to be the base runner the next inning at second. I knew I needed to make something happen.”

Indeed, the 2018 American League All-Star made something happen, as he launched his team-leading sixth home run in a crucial moment to close out the weekend and give the Red Sox their sixth win of the 2020 season.

Mitch Moreland Comes Through With Two Homers, Walks It off for Red Sox in Series-Clinching 5-3 Victory Over Blue Jays

For the first time in nearly a full calendar year, the Red Sox have won a series at home following a 4-3, walk-off victory over the Blue Jays at Fenway Park on Sunday.

Nathan Eovaldi made his fourth start of the season for Boston to close out the weekend, and he had a nice bounce-back outing coming off a somewhat rough go of things in Tampa Bay last week.

Working six innings on Sunday, the right-hander surrendered three runs, all of which were earned, on six hits and zero walks to go along with 10 strikeouts on the afternoon to tie a career-high.

All three Toronto tallies yielded by Eovaldi were driven in by the sons of former major-leaguers, with Cavan Biggio lifting a two-out solo shot in the third, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. plating Teoscar Hernandez on a two-out RBI single in the fourth, and Bo Bichette crushing a solo homer of his own to lead things off in the sixth.

Other than those mishaps, Eovaldi was fairly effective, missed plenty of bats, and escaped the top half of the sixth inning without giving anything else up to end his day on a more positive note.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 91 (63 strikes), the 30-year-old flamethrower turned to his vaunted four-seam fastball 40% of the time he was on the mound Sunday, inducing four swings-and-misses and topping out at 100.2 mph with the pitch.

Hit with the no-decision while raising his ERA on the year to 4.09, Eovaldi will look to build on this start in his next time out, which should come against the Yankees in the Bronx this coming Friday.

In relief of Eovaldi, left-hander Josh Osich got the call to begin things in the seventh, and he got the first two outs of the frame before a two-out walk of Biggio resulted in Sox manager Ron Roenicke turning to Austin Brice with the dangerous Bichette due up next.

As Roenicke had intended, Brice got the Blue Jays shortstop to ground into an inning-ending forceout, and then proceeded to punch out the side in the eighth on 17 pitches.

From there, Matt Barnes kept a 3-3 tie intact during a two-strikeout top of the ninth, and he would later be credited with his first winning decision of 2020 because of it.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against yet another veteran right-hander for the Blue Jays in the form of ex-Angels hurler Matt Shoemaker.

Mitch Moreland, who had faced Shoemaker seven times in his career before Sunday, got the scoring started for Boston with a 414-foot solo home run with one out in the second inning.

In the third, the Sox took advantage of sloppy defense from Shoemaker when Jackie Bradley Jr. led the inning off with a single, advanced to second on a Tzu-Wei Lin sacrifice bunt, and came around to score when the Toronto starter misfielded a soft grounder off the bat of Alex Verdugo. That bizarre sequence made it a 2-1 contest in favor of the home side.

Fast forward all the way to the sixth, another left-handed hitter got the best of Shoemaker, this time with Rafael Devers busting out of a cold spell and tying this one up at three runs apiece with a 449-foot blast to dead center coming off a first-pitch, 92 mph sinker on the inner half of the plate. The 23-year-old’s first Fenway big fly of 2020.

And in the ninth, a two-out walk drawn by Xander Bogaerts off Jays reliever Thomas Hatch brought Moreland to the plate for a fourth time. And with the chance to win this one, the 34-year-old did not waste anytime, as he swung at the first pitch he saw from the opposing right-hander and deposited an 86 mph slider well over the Green Monster to walk it off.

Moreland’s second long ball of the day and third of the weekend put the Red Sox up 5-3, which would of course go on to be Sunday’s final score.

Some notes and observations from this walk-off victory: 

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

Mitch Moreland’s last seven games: 7-for-21 (.333) with four homers and nine RBI.

From The Providence Journal’s Bill Koch:

Red Sox pitchers faced 35 Blue Jays hitters on Sunday. They struck out 15 of them.

Look at Rafael Devers, man.

Now a quarter of the way through the truncated season, the Red Sox are a not-so-nice 6-9 on the season. The homestand rolls on with the first of four against the Rays on Monday night.

Ron Roenicke has yet to name a starter for the series opener, but Tampa Bay will go with left-hander Ryan Yarbrough, who surrendered five runs over five innings his last time out against Boston on August 5.

First pitch Monday is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox looking for their second straight win.

Red Sox’ Kevin Pillar on Making Difficult Catch in Right Field Corner: ‘It Kind of Goes Back to My Football Mentality: Catch the Ball and Be Ready for a Little Contact’

The Red Sox may have lost on Saturday night, but Kevin Pillar arguably made the best defensive play of the entire game, and we’re not talking about him gunning down Travis Shaw at home plate here.

Instead, we’re talking about what Pillar did in the top half of the seventh inning, when with one out and Heath Hembree on the mound, Rowdy Tellez laced a screamer down the right field line that appeared to be headed towards home run or at least extra-base hit territory off the bat.

Rather than that happening though, a speeding Pillar dashed towards the right field corner, caught Tellez’s liner, collided with the short wall, and fell on his back all while holding onto the ball in his glove.

Per Statcast, that line-drive from Tellez had an exit velocity of 95 mph and had a 29% chance of being a hit. Pillar prevented that from happening, and in his postgame media availability, recalled his high school football days among other things when talking about the web gem.

“It’s a difficult play,” the outfielder said. “It makes it even more difficult [at Fenway Park] with the lack of foul territory… A ball like that’s not hit very often in BP. You can’t really recreate that off a fungo. I just felt like I was getting close when I hit the warning track and took one last peek at the wall and you got to make a decision. In a tight game, you got to be willing to hit the wall. It just kind of goes back to my football mentality: catch the ball and be ready for a little contact and try to help this team win some games.”

Interestingly enough, Pillar initially started Saturday’s contest on the bench but was dispatched as a pinch-hitter in place of the slumping Andrew Benintendi in the fourth inning. At the plate, the 31-year-old went 0-for-3 with a punchout, but nearly lifted a fly ball of his own over the right field fence in the bottom of the ninth, which would have tied the game at two runs apiece had it gone over.

Through 11 games with Boston, Pillar is slashing .317/.333/.348 with one home run and five RBI.

Prior to embarking on his professional baseball career in 2011, the California native played wide receiver among a plethora of other positions on his high school football team at West Hills’ Chaminade College Prep., hence the callback on Saturday night.

For more on how Pillar brings what he learned playing football onto the baseball field, check out this 2017 story from TSN’s Scott Mitchell.