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 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 Option Ryan Weber to Pawtucket, Call up Dylan Covey

Before taking on the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday, the Red Sox swapped one right-handed pitcher for another, as the club recalled Dylan Covey from their alternate training site in Pawtucket and in a corresponding move, optioned Ryan Weber.

Covey, who turns 29 next week, will be making his second stint with the Sox after allowing two runs over two innings of relief in a 7-2 loss at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles on July 25. The California native was sent down to Pawtucket shortly after his team debut with the goal of getting him stretched out in mind, manager Ron Roenicke said at the time.

Originally acquired by Boston from the Tampa Bay Rays on July 21, Covey came into the 2020 season with a career 6.54 ERA and 5.56 FIP over 63 outings (45 starts) and 250 1/3 innings pitched with the Chicago White Sox from 2017 through 2019.

Weber, meanwhile, entered the 2020 campaign as the Sox’ No. 3 starter but struggled in that role, most recently surrendering two runs in just three innings of work against the Blue Jays on Friday night.

Through three starts at the big-league level thus far in 2020, the soon-to-be-30-year-old hurler has posted an ERA of 9.90 and OPS against of 1.220 over 10 total innings pitched.

With Weber off the major-league roster for the time being, it will be fascinating to see how the Red Sox approach the vacancy in their starting rotation. Roenicke will likely have more to say about that later Saturday.

Alex Verdugo Clubs Two Homers Over Green Monster, Takes One Back in Right Field as Red Sox Open Series Against Blue Jays With 5-3 Victory

For the second time this season, the Red Sox are on a winning streak, as they followed a 5-0 win over the Rays on Wednesday by opening up a seven-game homestand with a 4-2 victory over the Blue Jays on Friday.

Ryan Weber made his third start of the season for Boston in this one, coming off back-to-back losing decisions to kick off his 2020 campaign.

Working three-plus innings on Friday, the right-hander surrendered two runs, both of which were earned, on five hits and two walks to go along with three strikeouts on the night.

The first of those two Toronto tallies off Weber came right away in the first inning, when after nearly striking out moments before, Cavan Biggio led things off with a 397-foot solo shot to left field coming off a 3-2, 89 mph sinker down the heart of the plate.

In the third, Biggio caused more trouble, this time leading off the frame with a line-drive single and coming around to score moments later on RBI double off the bat of Bo Bichette.

The sons of former players didn’t make things easy for Weber, but he did manage to strand Bichette by getting Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to ground out to retire the side in the third before a leadoff single from Travis Shaw in the fourth marked the end of his evening.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 64 (39 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler turned to his sinker 48% of the time he was on the mound Friday, inducing one swing-and-miss and topping out at 89.6 mph with the pitch.

Able to halt his personal losing streak while lowering his ERA on the year to 9.90 despite getting hit with the no-decision, Weber’s next start, if he gets one that is, would likely come against the Tampa Bay Rays next Wednesday or Thursday.

In relief of Weber, Heath Hembree got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen and managed to clean up his predecessor’s mess by getting Teoscar Hernandez to pop out to second before inducing a 4-6-3 inning-ending double play off the bat of Danny Jansen.

From there, Colten Brewer tossed a perfect top of the fifth, Ryan Brasier yielded one run on two hits and one walk in the sixth, Austin Brice danced his way around a two-out walk in an otherwise clean seventh, Matt Barnes walked a pair yet didn’t surrender anything in the eighth thanks to a 4-6-3 twin-killing started by Xander Bogaerts, and Brandon Workman, with the help of Alex Verdugo, worked a scoreless ninth to lock down the save and the 5-3 victory for his side.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against veteran right-hander Tanner Roark for Toronto, who had last pitched on July 28 due his team’s series against the Phillies last week getting postponed.

Perhaps a bit rusty because of all that time off, walked four of the first five Red Sox hitters he faced, allowing Mitch Moreland to pick up an RBI by drawing a bases-loaded walk with one out in the bottom of the first.

A Christian Vazquez double-play extinguished any shot of doing more damage off Roark right away in this one, but the Boston bats were back at it again in the second.

There, on the very second pitch of the inning, Alex Verdugo crushed a 1-0, 77 mph changeup on the outer half of the plate from Roark and deposited it 366 feet into the Monster seats in left field. His second homer in as many games put the Sox up 2-1 early on.

An inning later, another left-handed hitter got to Roark, as Moreland followed a one-out Xander Bogaerts single with a first-pitch, 427-foot two-run blast over everything in right field to make it a 4-2 contest. His fourth home run of the season.

Fast forward to the eighth, and Verdugo put this one to bed with a leadoff solo shot over the fence in left field, his second of the contest, off Rafael Dolis.

That 331-foot shot put the Red Sox up 5-3, which would go on to be Friday’s final score.

Some notes and observations from this win:

Alex Verdugo has a .927 OPS now. Wouldn’t be surprising to see him in the leadoff spot soon, maybe even on Saturday.

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the second of this three-game set against the Jays on Saturday night.

Veteran right-hander and one-time Blue Jay Zack Godley will get the start for Boston, while fellow righty Chase Anderson will do the same for Toronto.

Godley, 30, surrendered five earned runs in just over three innings of work in his first start with the Sox against the Yankees last weekend. He owns a lifetime 4.70 ERA and .691 OPS against in three career outings (one start) and 7 2/3 innings pitched against the Jays.

Anderson, meanwhile, will be making his 2020 debut on Saturday after starting the season on the injured list due to an oblique strain. The 32-year-old has never pitched inside Fenway Park before in his career.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox looking to put together their first three-game winning streak of the year.

Red Sox Add Right-Hander Seth Blair, Release Outfielder John Andreoli From Player Pool

Before opening up a three-game weekend series against the Blue Jays on Friday, the Red Sox made a minor roster shake-up, as the club added right-handed pitcher Seth Blair to their player pool and in a corresponding move released outfielder John Andreoli.

Blair, 31, was originally drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the first round of the 2010 amateur draft out of Arizona State University and spent six years in the organization before getting released in April 2015.

From there, according to this New York Times feature on Blair, the Illinois native “took a five-year break from baseball” before signing a minor-league deal with the Padres last May.

While in San Diego’s farm system, Blair posted a 4.11 ERA and 3.64 xFIP over 17 outings (two starts) and 35 innings pitched for High-A Lake Elsinore before once again getting released on August 9.

Since then, again going back to that NYT piece, the former Sun Devil had been running a training facility for major and minor-leaguers in the backyard of his Scottsdale home to provide players a place to work out during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Based off said article and Blair’s own Instagram page, it would appear that the flame-throwing right-hander has bought into the whole Driveline revolution in baseball that was started by the likes of Trevor Bauer and Kyle Boddy in Washington state. What he’s learned there could be useful to other pitchers in the Red Sox organization who are currently working out in Pawtucket.

As for Andreoli, the 30-year-old outfielder out of Worcester, Mass. inked a minor-league pact with Boston back in December after spending the 2019 season with the Giants, Twins, and Mariners organizations.

The UCONN product was added the Sox’ 60-man player pool last month, but his stint there obviously did not last too long seeing how he was cut loose on Friday.

By essentially swapping Andreoli for Blair, the Red Sox’ 60-man player pool is still at full capacity. Blair will presumably report to McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket within the next few days.

 

Red Sox’ Alex Verdugo on Crushing First Home Run of Season With New Team: ‘To Finally Be Able to Help Out and Get a Couple Runs for Us, It’s Huge’

Going into Wednesday night, Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo was without a home run or RBI through his first nine games and 30 plate appearances with his new team.

That all changed against Rays left-hander Ryan Yarbrough in the fourth inning of an eventual 5-0 win for Boston at Tropicana Field to close out a seven-game road trip.

After striking out on eight pitches in his first at-bat against the Rays starter, Verdugo come to the plate for a second time with two outs and a runner on first following a Michael Chavis single.

On the second pitch he saw in his second at-bat against Yarbrough, which was nearly identical to the first’s location, the 24-year-old unloaded on an 0-1, 71 mph curveball at the bottom of the zone and deposited it 352 feet to the right field seats for his first home run of 2020 and his first in a Red Sox uniform. It also gave his side an early two-run lead.

“It felt amazing, man,” Verdugo said of his homer during his postgame media availability. “It’s pretty obvious a lot of us are going through it right now trying to find our swings. There’s a lot of new things in baseball, not being able to see the videos until after the games and all that. Usually, the in-game adjustments have been hard. It felt really good to finally be able to stay on one, to stay through it and get one out.”

Per Statcast, Verdugo’s two-run blast had an Expected Batting Average (xBA) of .220, so it wasn’t exactly barreled, per se, but it was still encouraging to see him make relatively hard contact nonetheless. His manager, Ron Roenicke felt that way as well.

“He was pretty happy, I’ll tell you that, when he came to the dugout,” said the Sox skipper. “It was huge. At the time, it was huge. I thought Yarbrough was throwing the ball fantastic and the next thing you know, we’ve got two runs on the board. The players know it, they feel what’s going on. To get that lead, I’m sure Dugie felt pretty good about that.”

Indeed, Verdugo did feel pretty good about getting his first one out of here since coming over from the Dodgers in February. More importantly, he was happy it contributed to a victory.

“I think the biggest thing for me was just to help the team out,” Verdugo said. “It was a tie game, so just to get up there and give us a 2-0 lead, give the pitcher and everybody a little breath. Like, ‘Hey, alright, we’ve got some room to work.’ That was my biggest part. I came here to contribute. I’ve played the game hard and I want to contribute in everything that I do. To finally be able to help out and get a couple runs for us, it’s huge.”

Following Wednesday’s impressive performance, Verdugo is showing why he should be starting more against left-handed starters, especially when the likes of Andrew Benintendi and Jackie Bradley Jr. are mired in slumps.

While with Los Angeles for parts of the previous three seasons, the left-handed hitting Arizona native slashed .306/.333/.452 slash line in 133 plate appearances against left-handed pitchers, earning the reputation of being a “reverse splits” guy.

Thus far with the Red Sox, Verdugo now owns an OPS of 1.009 through his first 16 plate appearances against southpaws this year, again proving that he should be playing more. Even still, the outfielder understands that finding playing time for everyone is no easy task.

“I always mess around with that,” Verdugo said with a smile. “When I’m not in there against a lefty, I’m like, ‘Hey, Ron, just so you know, man, I can hit ‘em.’ I think he knows it, too. I think he also knows when players are pressing. He’s doing his job, he’s doing what he has to do. I take a lot of pride against lefties.”

Also, it’s probably about time Verdugo moves up in the lineup, too. Just a thought.

 

Red Sox Make Series of Roster Moves, Option Chris Mazza and Matt Hall to Pawtucket

As roster sizes across Major League Baseball shrink from 30 to 28 players on Thursday, the Red Sox made a series of moves following Wednesday night’s win over the Rays, optioning right-hander Chris Mazza and left-hander Matt Hall to the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket.

By sending down the two hurlers, the Sox now have 28 players on their active roster, as will be the case for the remainder of the 2020 season. The only difference now being that clubs can carry 29 players on days they will be playing double-headers while taxi-squad capacity for road trips has increased from three players to five.

As for the two pitchers Boston sent down, let’s start with Hall. The 27-year-old southpaw has got off to a tough start with the Sox, allowing eight earned runs over his first two appearances (one start) and 4 2/3 innings pitched this season.

Originally acquired from the Tigers back in January, Hall served as an opener for the Red Sox against the Mets on July 28 and was then used after the opener, Austin Brice in this case, in two innings of relief against the Yankees on August 2. As previously mentioned, the Missouri native did not pitch particularly well in either outing.

Mazza, meanwhile, impressed in his Red Sox debut in New York on August 1, working 2 2/3 scoreless innings of relief while scattering one hit, two walks, and three strikeouts in an eventual 5-2 loss at the hands of the Yankees.

The 30-year-old out of the Bay Area was first called up by Boston on July 29 in a transaction that also saw veteran catcher Jonathan Lucroy get designated for assignment.

Despite Hall and Mazza both getting demoted, it wouldn’t be a shock to see either hurler back up with the Sox at some point later in the season. For now, they will report to the club’s alternate training site at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket.

Michael Chavis, Alex Verdugo Both Homer While Martin Perez Tosses Five Scoreless Innings Against Rays as Red Sox Halt Losing Streak at Four

The Red Sox capped off their first road trip of the season on a positve note on Wednesday night, topping the Rays by a final score of 5-0 to put an end to their four-game losing streak.

Martin Perez made his third start of the year for Boston in this one, and he picked up where he left against the Mets with another solid outing on Wednesday.

Working five scoreless innings, the left-hander worked a bit of a tight-rope act, but still managed to keep Tampa Bay off the board while scattering four hits and three walks to go along with four strikeouts on the night.

Part of the reason Perez was able to avoid any real damage was his ability to induce soft contact on Wednesday, as he got the Rays to ground into a double-play on two separate occasions.

On top of that, the Sox starter also did an adequate job of dealing with traffic on the base-paths. Among the 20 batters he faced, Perez allowed seven to reach base, yet none of them scored thanks in part to the Rays going 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position, with the last of those chances coming with two outs in the fifth.

There, Yandy Diaz reached base on a line-drive double off Perez, but the 29-year-old countered by getting the dangerous Austin Meadows to fly out to right and that was that.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 91, only 48 of which were strikes, Perez relied on his cutter and changeup a combined 53% of the time he was on the mound Wednesday, inducing eight swings-and-misses with the pair of pitches while also topping out at 93.6 mph with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 20 times en route to picking up his second consecutive winning decision.

With that, Perez is now 2-1 on the season with an ERA of 3.45. His next start will also come against the Rays, this time at Fenway Park, sometime next week, likely on Tuesday.

In relief of Perez, Colten Brewer got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen in the middle of the sixth, and he maneuvered his way around a leadoff walk in an otherwise perfect inning of work.

From there, Austin Brice tossed a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh, Matt Barnes bounced back with a quick and painless bottom of the eighth, and Brandon Workman closed things out and preserved the shutout by striking out the side in the ninth.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup, absent the likes of Andrew Benintendi and Jackie Bradley Jr., was matched up against Rays southpaw Ryan Yarbrough to kick things off on Wednesday.

As it turned out, Boston’s first runs of the night were driven in by a left-handed bat. That hitter’s name? Alex Verdugo.

Yes, it took until the fourth inning, but after Michael Chavis reached base on a two-out double, the 24-year-old outfielder followed by crushing a 0-1, 71 mph curveball from Yarbrough just over the fence in right field for his first Red Sox home run.

Fast forward to the sixth, and Chavis was in the offensive spotlight once more, this time coming to the plate against Yarbrough with no outs and a runner on first following a Christian Vazquez RBI single that brought in Xander Bogaerts.

On the sixth pitch he saw from the Rays starter, Chavis unloaded on a 3-2, 78 mph changeup down the heart of the plate and deposited it 421 feet to the seats in left field, right off a cardboard cutout.

Chavis’ second big fly of 2020 and his second within the last five days put his side up 5-0, which as previously mentioned, would be all the Red Sox would need to pick up their fourth win of the season in this one.

Some notes and observations from this victory:

Michael Chavis on Wednesday: 3-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored. His first multi-hit game of the season, and he also looked really sharp at first base.

Since giving up five runs (four earned) in his first two innings pitched as a member of the Red Sox back on July 25, Martin Perez has yielded just two earned runs over his last 13 2/3 innings of work.

Xander Bogaerts over the course of this seven-game road trip: 10-for-23 (.435) with two homers and four RBI.

From Red Sox Notes:

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s a happy flight back home to Boston, another off day on Thursday, and the first of three against the Blue Jays at Fenway Park to kick off the weekend on Friday.

As things currently stand, the Sox will roll with right-hander Ryan Weber on Friday, right-hander Zack Godley on Saturday, and an opener on Sunday. The Jays have yet to name any of their starters for the three-game set.

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

Before that though, major-league rosters across baseball have to go from 30 players down to 28 by Thursday morning, so stay tuned for that.

Could Michael Chavis Be at Risk of Losing Spot on Red Sox Roster?

Major-league rosters across baseball on Thursday will shrink down from 30 players to 28 players for the remainder of the 2020 season, meaning most clubs will have to demote two players from their active rosters within the next 24 hours.

The Red Sox, of course, are no exception to this rule, and will be subject to doing the same on Thursday, which just so happens to be an off-day for the last-place club.

That being said, a team averaging just over 4.2 runs per game through its first 11 games of the season may be willing to shake things up offensively, and in order to do that, a player struggling at the plate may have to take a back seat for the time being. That player, in this scenario, is Michael Chavis.

Fresh off making his first career Opening Day roster last month, Chavis has gotten his first full season in the majors off to a dreadful start. Through seven games played, six of which have been starts, the 24-year-old is 3-for-his-first-21 at the plate, resulting in a dismal .143/.182/.286 slash line to go along with just one home run and one RBI thus far.

In those 21 at-bats, or 22 plate appearances to be more specific, Chavis has struck out nearly 41% of the time, which according to FanGraphs is the sixth-highest mark in the American League among hitters who have accrued at least 20 plate appearances at this point in the season.

On top of that, the former first-round pick has the second-highest swing-and-miss rate (22.5%) in the junior circuit behind only White Sox rookie phenom Luis Robert (26.2%).

Long story short, Chavis, who still has three minor-league options remaining on his current contract, seems like the “perfect” candidate to get sent down to the Red Sox’ alternate training site in Pawtucket so that he can sort some things out in a less stressful environment.

In the meantime, the Sox have some things to figure out themselves in terms of roster construction at the major-league level. Top prospect Bobby Dalbec, who has fully recovered from his asymptomatic bout with COVID-19, is “swinging the bat better all the time” while playing in intrasquad games in Pawtucket, according to Boston manager Ron Roenicke.

“[It’s] still hard to tell because they aren’t real games that they’re playing in,” Roenicke said of Dalbec’s performance. “We just get reports on how he does and hopefully that translates into, if you need to, good at-bats in the game.”

Swapping Chavis for Dalbec does not seem too far out of the realm of possibilities for the Sox seeing how the latter can play both corner infield positions relatively well. Then again, a straight swap wouldn’t mean as much with roster sizes shrinking down to 28 players on Thursday.

All in all, whether it is Chavis or another pair of players that get demoted, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. certainly have their work cut out for them over the next few hours.

Red Sox Top Prospect Bobby Dalbec Joins Club’s Taxi Squad in Tampa Bay for Series Against Rays

Top prospect Bobby Dalbec has joined the Red Sox for the final leg of their seven-game road trip in Tampa Bay this week, although the 25-year-old will be part of the club’s taxi squad, not their active roster, according to ABC6’s Ian Steele and The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

This news comes as Dalbec was not present at the Sox’ alternate training site in Pawtucket on Monday, as he was likely on a flight to St. Petersburg instead.

Regarded by MLB Pipeline as Boston’s No. 3 prospect, the 6-foot-4, 227 lb. corner infielder was cleared to return to baseball activities last month after a bout with COVID-19 in which he never experienced any symptoms. He was added to the Sox’ 60-man player pool on July 17 and unlike Darwinzon Hernandez, Eduardo Rodriguez, or Josh Taylor, avoided a stint on the injured list.

Originally taken by the Sox in the fourth round of the 2016 amateur draft out of The University of Arizona, Dalbec, a native of Washington state, has emerged as one of the top power-hitting prospects in the organization. Just last season, he slugged 27 home runs in 135 total games between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket.

Already a member of Boston’s 40-man roster, Dalbec will not accrue any service time while he is “up” with the club’s taxi squad, but as was the case last September, the right-handed hitter will be able to familiarize himself with the big-league environment once more.

He’ll have to wait a little bit longer to make his major-league debut, but I would have to think Dalbec’s time is coming relatively soon.