Red Sox Add Yairo Muñoz to Spring Training Roster, Option Four Pitchers to Minor-League Camp

The Red Sox officially announced the signing of former Cardinals utilityman Yairo Munoz on a minor-league deal on Thursday. The 25-year-old has been added to Boston’s spring training roster as a non-roster invitee and will likely begin the year with Triple-A Pawtucket once the 2020 season does begin.

In a series of other moves, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom also announced that Colten Brewer and three pitchers picked up over the course of the offseason — Matt Hall, Chris Mazza, and Jeffrey Springs– had been optioned to minor-league rosters.

Hall and Mazza were both optioned to High-A Salem, while Brewer was optioned to Double-A Portland and Springs was optioned to Pawtucket.

Brewer and Mazza both seemed like potential options to serve as an opener for the Sox this season, but it looks like they’ll start the year in the minors once baseball does resume, although I doubt it will be at the levels they were optioned to on Thursday.

Hall and Springs, meanwhile, were picked up via a pair of trades over the winter. The two left-handers appeared in a total of 41 major-league games last year with the Tigers and Rangers respectively.

With these moves, the Red Sox now have 43 players at major-league camp, 16 of which are pitchers.

 

Martín Pérez Punches out Seven Over Four Scoreless Innings as Red Sox Hold on to Defeat Twins

After splitting a split-squad doubleheader on Saturday, the Red Sox improved to 6-10-2 in Grapefruit League play on Sunday following a tight 7-6 victory over the Minnesota Twins at JetBlue Park.

Making his third start of the spring for Boston was Martin Perez, coming off just 2/3 of an inning of work in his last time out against the Yankees this past Tuesday.

Tossing four full innings this time around, the left-hander experienced much better results as he kept his former team off the scoreboard while scattering four hits and one walk to go along with seven strikeouts on the afternoon.

Despite dealing with a fair share of traffic on the base paths, Perez was able to avoid any real damage with the help of ground ball and strikeout-inducing pitches.

The most impressive takeaways, for me at least, were how Perez worked his way around a leadoff walk in the second by inducing a 4-6-3 double play before striking out the side in order in the third. He retired three of the final five hitters he faced in the fourth.

Finishing with a rather high final pitch count of 84, Perez’s next start should come sometime next weekend depending on if he gets four or five days of rest in between outings.

In relief of Perez, Ryan Brasier got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen in the fifth for his third appearance of the spring, and he retired the only three Twins he faced in order.

From there, Heath Hembree surrendered the first run of the contest on two hits in the sixth, left-hander Matt Hall yielded another pair of runs on three hits and one walk in the seventh, Chris Mazza maneuvered his way around a one-out double in an otherwise clean eighth before being charged with three runs on three hits while only being able to record the first two outs of the ninth, and pitching prospect Durbin Feltman allowed one of his inherited runners to score before closing things out to secure the 7-6 win for his side.

All in all, Sox pitching combined to give up six earned runs on 14 hits, three walks, and eight strikeouts over nine innings in a contest that turned out to be much closer than initially anticipated.

On the other side of things, a Red Sox starting lineup that featured Kevin Pillar, Rafael Devers, J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, Mitch Moreland, Michael Chavis, Christian Vazquez, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Jose Peraza was matched up against a familiar foe in Twins right-hander Kenta Maeda to begin things on Sunday.

Nothing came against Maeda, who like Perez also tossed four scoreless innings, but Martinez did eventually get the Sox on the board in the bottom half of the sixth.

There, matched up against Twins reliever Matt Wisler, the slugger drove in Pillar from second on a two-out RBI single laced down the left field line that knotted things up at one run apiece.

In the seventh, after falling behind by two runs, Worcester native John Andreoli cut that deficit in half by driving in fellow Massachusetts native Nick Longhi in from third on a run-scoring single to left off of Cory Gearrin.

One groundout and walk later, Jonathan Lucroy stepped to the plate with one out and the bases loaded, and he came through with arguably his biggest hit of the spring to this point, a two-run double blistered off the wall in left field to plate Jantzen Witte and John Andreoli.

Tyler Esplin followed with a run-scoring groundout that brought in Johan Mieses from third, and just like that, the Red Sox had themselves a 5-3 advantage.

What would turn out to be much-needed insurance was added on to that two-run lead an inning later, with Witte and Andreoli both reaching on two-out singles off of Sam Clay and Chad De La Guerra driving in the pair on a two-run triple to the opposite field.

That three-base hit put the Red Sox up 7-3, and after the Twins stormed back with three runs of their own in their half of the ninth, 7-6 would go on to be Sunday’s final score.

Some observations from this win:

Martin Perez has a solid cutter.

Xander Bogaerts is 0-for-his-first-9 this spring.

Jonathan Lucroy, off the bench, on Sunday: 1-for-2 with one double and two RBI. Kevin Plawecki did not play.

Heath Hembree, Matt Hall, and Chris Mazza all had far from impressive showings on Sunday. Ryan Brasier, on the other hand, looked sharp.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll once again head to North Port for their first night game of the spring against the Atlanta Braves on Monday.

Right-hander Ryan Weber will get the start for Boston, while fellow righty Felix Hernandez will do the same for Atlanta.

Through his first two outings of the spring, Weber has surrendered one unearned run over his first five innings pitched. He appears to have a strong grip on a spot in the Sox’ starting rotation to begin the new season.

First pitch Monday is scheduled for 6:05 PM EDT on NESN.

 

Bryan Mata Hurls Two Scoreless Innings, Jonathan Arauz Homers as Red Sox Fall to Phillies

After powering themselves to a 6-3 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday, the Red Sox fell to 3-3-1 on Grapefruit League action on Thursday following a 12-5 defeat at the hands of the Philadelphia Phillies at JetBlue Park.

Making his first start and second appearance of the spring was Bryan Mata, who is now ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 4 prospect in the Sox’ system headed into the 2020 season.

Working the first two innings Thursday, the 20-year-old right-hander kept the Phillies off the scoreboard while scattering two hits and one walk to go along with a pair of strikeouts on the afternoon. Those two punchouts came against the final two hitters he faced in the second.

In relief of Mata, Chris Mazza got hit hard for three runs on a two-run home run and RBI double in the third, left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez allowed one run on two hits and a sacrifice fly in the fourth, newcomer Phillips Valdez fanned two in an impressive, scoreless fifth, Bobby Poyner yielded a two-run homer to Delvy Grullon in the sixth, Daniel McGrath surrendered one run on three singles and a walk in the seventh, R.J. Alvarez allowed six of the nine hitters he faced in the eighth to reach base, resulting in four more Phillies runs, Eduard Bazardo yielded another run while only being able to record the first out of the ninth, and Matthew Kent wrapped things up by retiring the only two hitters he faced.

All in all, Red Sox pitching on Thursday combined to give up 12 runs on 20(!) hits and six walks. It’s still only late February, but I would not call those numbers ideal.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup that featured Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., J.D. Martinez, Mitch Moreland, Christian Vazquez, Kevin Pillar, Tzu-Wei Lin, Bobby Dalbec, and Jonathan Arauz was matched up against Phillies right-hander Nick Pivetta to begin things in this one.

Moreland got the scoring started for Boston in the bottom half of the third, driving in Benintendi, who had walked, from second with two outs on an RBI single through the right side of the infield off new reliever Seth McGarry to make it a 3-1 contest.

An inning later, back-to-back one-out knocks from Lin and Dalbec against reliever Cole Irvin brought Arauz to the plate with runners at second and third.

Arauz took full advantage of the scoring opportunity on the third pitch he saw from Irvin, as the 21-year-old laced a three-run homer over the wall in left field to pull his team back even with Philadelphia at four runs apiece.

Fast forward all the way to the seventh though, and the Phillies had jumped out to a three-run advantage at 7-4. Marcus Wilson reached base on a one-out single off Deolis Guerra, advanced to second on a Jonathan Lucroy two-out double, and scored on a wild pitch with Tommy Joseph at the plate.

That mishap brought the Sox back to within two runs, but the Phillies again jumped out to another commanding lead to eventually take this Grapefruit League contest by a final score of 12-5.

Some observations from this loss:

This game was not televised, but I do believe that it is important to note that Andrew Benintendi went 1-for-1 with a single, walk, and run scored out of the leadoff spot, and as I just mentioned, Jonathan Lucroy came off the bench in the seventh and ripped a double to left. He also struck out in the ninth.

Not that it means much this early in the year, but Jeter Downs, the team’s new top prospect according to MLB Pipleine, did commit another fielding error at second base in the sixth inning.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll head down the road to Hammond Stadium to take on the Twins on Friday afternoon.

Left-hander Kyle Hart will get the start for Boston, while veteran right-hander Homer Bailey will do the same for Minnesota.

Hart is one of several hurlers competing for a spot in the Sox’ starting rotation, and there may even be two openings now that Chris Sale will start the season on the injured list.

The 27-year-old left plenty to be desired in his most recent outing against the Twins on Monday, as he surrendered three runs on three hits and a walk in the third inning of an eventual 3-2 loss.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EST. This game will not be televised.

 

 

Red Sox Open Grapefruit League Play With 4-3 Win Over Rays

After opening up their spring with a 3-0 seven-inning win over the Northeastern Huskies on Friday, the Red Sox kicked it up a notch and began Grapefruit League play with a tight 4-3 victory over the Rays at JetBlue Park on Saturday.

Making his first start of the spring for Boston in this one was Brian Johnson, who is now off the Sox’ 40-man roster and is at big-league camp as a non-roster invite.

The left-hander only worked the first inning Saturday, and he capped a perfect opening frame off with his only strikeout of the afternoon.

From there, top pitching prospect Bryan Mata worked his way around a one-out single and walk drawn by the Rays with the help of an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play in the second, Colten Brewer fanned three and plunked another in a scoreless third, lefty Josh Osich retired all three hitters he faced in order in the fourth, Mike Kickham got himself out of a bases-loaded jam and kept Tampa Bay off the board in the fifth, Mike Shawaryn punched out one and stranded another in a quick sixth frame, Domingo Tapia did the same in the seventh, and Matthew Kent held his own in the eighth.

By the time this contest reached the beginning of the ninth, the Red Sox had themselves a brand new four-run lead to work with while Kent came back out for his second inning of work.

Despite that comfortable cushion, things did get tight, as the Rays pushed across three runs against Kent and Matthew Gorst before right fielder Tyler Esplin put an end to things on a fly ball off the bat of Vidal Brujan with two outs in the frame.

Had he misjudged the trajectory of the ball, Ryan LaMarre, who was on first, would have more than likely scored and we would have had ourselves a whole new ballgame. Instead, the 2017 seventh-round pick put his athleticism on full display to secure the 4-3 win for his side.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox starting lineup featured plenty of regulars to begin things on Saturday.

Andrew Benintendi led things off in the first with a single en route to a 1-for-2 day at the plate, Jackie Bradley Jr. fanned twice, J.D. Martnez went 0-for-1 with a walk, Michael Chavis punched out in each of his two plate appearances, Kevin Pillar, Jose Peraza, and top prospect Bobby Dalbec all went 0-for-2, Tzu-Wei Lin went 1-for-2 with a leadoff single in the third, and catcher Jett Bandy followed that with a single of his own in his lone plate appearance of the afternoon.

Similar to Friday’s opener, it was another quiet day for the Boston bats. In fact, it wasn’t until the bottom of the fifth when they finally pushed a run across.

There, with two outs and a runner on second following a walk and wild pitch, Brett Netzer drove in his side’s first run on an RBI pop-up single off of Joe Ryan that did not travel further than the outskirts of the left side of the infield.

A ball that probably should have been caught instead went for a hit, and since there were two outs, the runner, Josh Ockimey, was able to score all the way from second because of it. 1-0.

Fast forward all the way to the eighth, and back-to-back run-scoring knocks off the bats of Jagger Rusconi and Nick Lovullo with one out increased that advantage up to three runs.

A walk drawn by Dylan Hardy put runners on the corners for Grant Williams, who grounded out to second base off new Rays reliever Phoenix Sanders while Lovullo scored from third. However, Hardy tried to advance to third on the play and he was tagged out, thus ending the inning with Boston up 4-0.

A late rally from the Rays would threaten that lead, but the Red Sox were able to hold on by the skin of their teeth to take their Grapefruit League opener by a final score of 4-3.

Some notes from this win:

Spring training numbers don’t really matter, so I’ll just say that the Red Sox are undefeated in 2020. Haha!

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll travel out to Sarasota to take on the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday afternoon.

Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez was slated to start for Boston, but he has since been pushed back a day after twisting his left knee in a bullpen session on Wednesday. Instead, right-hander Chris Mazza will get the starting nod.

Claimed off waivers from the Mets back in December, Mazza is in the mix for the fifth spot in the Sox’ starting rotation, according to interim manager Ron Roenicke.

Veteran left-hander Wade LeBlanc will start for Baltimore.

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

Chaim Bloom Says Red Sox Have ‘a Lot of Time’ to Find Replacement for David Price

Mookie Betts and David Price have officially been traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers. While the Red Sox are getting a serviceable replacement for Betts in the form of 23-year-old outfielder Alex Verdugo, they were unable to compensate for their pitching needs in this five-player deal.

As things stand right now, the Red Sox’ starting rotation is composed of Chris Sale, Eduardo Rodriguez, Nathan Eovaldi, and newcomer Martin Perez. That’s about it now that Price is out of the picture.

Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom was asked at Monday’s press conference about who could replace the veteran left-hander this coming season.

“As strange as it is to say this right before pitchers and catchers report, obviously we have a lot of time to figure that out,” Bloom said. “We have spent a lot of the winter adding starting depth to our 40-man [roster]. We have some good options off-roster as well.”

Prior to shipping Betts and Price off to Los Angeles, Bloom and Co. kept plenty busy by making a number of smaller transactions. Some of the players who will serve as starting depth that are currently on the 40-man roster include Matt Hall, Kyle Hart, Chris Mazza, Mike Shawaryn, Hector Velazquez, and Ryan Weber.

In terms of pitchers that are not currently on the 40-man roster, Tanner Houck and Brian Johnson immediately come to mind as hurlers who could start in the majors this season if necessary.

“Because of the shoes David leaves behind, we’re going to continue to look outside the organization as well,” Bloom added.

Just because pitchers and catchers report to Fenway South on Tuesday does not mean that additional roster shakeups will be made. Players will be traded, waived, maybe even released.

With the six-plus weeks remaining until the start of the 2020 regular seasons, it would be foolish to think that the Red Sox’ roster won’t look different come March 25th.

David Price will be missed, both on the field and in the Sox’ clubhouse, but despite what you may be led to believe, there is time to implement an adequate replacement or replacements.

Red Sox Claim Chris Mazza off Waivers From Mets

Earlier Friday, the Red Sox claimed right-handed reliever Chris Mazza off waivers from the New York Mets.

Mazza, who was designated by New York last week, posted an ERA of 5.51 and xFIP of 5.47 over nine relief appearances and 16 1/3 innings of work this past season, his first in the majors.

The 30-year-old hurler was originally drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 27th round of the 2011 amateur draft out of Walnut Creek, Ca. and had to work his way through independent league ball in 2018 in order to make it back as a Rule 5 pick of the Mets that year.

While with the Mets’ Double- A and Triple-A clubs this season, Mazza allowed a total of 43 runs (40 earned) on 91 hits and 26 walks over 18 appearances, 17 of which were starts. That’s good for an ERA of 3.61 and batting average against of .247.

Per Statcast, Mazza relies on five pitches: a changeup, a cutter, a four-seam fastball, a sinker, and a slider. He averaged 90.6 MPH with his four-seamer in 2019.

Mazza joins left-hander Josh Osich as additions chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. have made through waivers so far this offseason. As the above tweet mentions, the righty is the 40th player on the Red Sox’ current 40-man roster, which is subject to change.